SC relief for 'brutal' juvenile

New Delhi, Jan. 31: The minor who was allegedly the most brutal in last month's bus gang rape of a paramedic will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, even if the legislation is struck down, the Supreme Court said today.

"The act is of 2000 and you have now come to challenge it after 13 years… In any case, even if we strike down the law, the 2000 act will apply in the present case as in criminal law any legislation will have only a prospective effect and not retrospective. So why should there be any urgency? There is no urgency, let it (a new law) come in the normal course," the court said.

The observations of the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir were made as it rejected requests for early hearing of a PIL seeking the scrapping of the act. The petitioners claim the act is unconstitutional as it violates Article 14 (equality before law) and 21 (Liberty).

The court's conclusion implies that despite the clamour to try the minor under regular IPC sections on murder and gang rape ' which provide for the death penalty ' he will be tried only under the juvenile act that prescribes a maximum sentence of three years in a reformatory home.

Senior counsel Vikram Mahajan, appearing for petitioner Vinay K. Sharma, had sought the early hearing of his PIL on the ground that the trial had already commenced and the juvenile may escape regular laws if he is not tried along with his five co-accused.

The petitioner contended prosecuting the other five, all adults, under the IPC provisions and the minor under the juvenile act violated Article 14 (equality before law). Further, the release of the minor after three years of rehabilitation violated the rights of the other citizens under Article 21 (liberty) as he could pose a fresh threat to society, the plea said.

The plea pointed out there had been a spurt in crimes across the country by juveniles and cited data from the National Crime Research Bureau. Most have been accused of crimes like rape and murder.

Charges filed

Delhi police today filed charges before the Juvenile Justice Board against the minor accused in last month's gang rape and murder case.

"We submitted the inquiry report detailing his role in the crime…. We have mentioned in detail how he brutalised the victim with an iron rod, his family background and how he reached Delhi from his village in Uttar Pradesh," said a senior police officer.

The "inquiry report" is the chargesheet. The proceedings in the case of a juvenile are called an "inquiry" and not a "trial". The filing came three days after the board declared him a minor on the basis of school records. The accused ' 17 years and six months according to the records ' is at a juvenile correctional home.

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