This refers to the reports “Juvenile gets 3 years in Delhi gang rape case” & “A shocking verdict, say parents of Delhi gang rape victim” (Sept.1). The “juvenile offender” was the most brutal of the girl’s attackers. Let us not forget in a hurry the horrifying extent of her injuries. In this case, this boy-man will end up stalking the streets in another 25 months while his partners in crime await the death penalty.
In such extreme cases, it would be better if the offender is arrested once again and tried in the regular court. He should be punished unless he proves beyond doubt that he has reformed himself and has truly repented. The onus must be on the criminal.
It is fine that the sentence was given in accordance with existing law, but the brutality of the accused and the borderline age limit should have been reconsidered in a broad framework keeping in mind the growing involvement of juveniles in all sorts of crimes. In this particular case, while a bone test is an approved method, why was his school certificate used in determining his age?
This verdict is a clear case of why age should not be used as parameter to decide whether the person is guilty or innocent after committing a despicable act. In the case of juvenile crime, there is a need to reduce the age to 15 from the present 18.
The accused does not magically become a child when just a few months or days ahead of his 18th birthday and then, instantly, a full grown adult on his 18th birthday. Biological evolution is gradual and the extent of his crime which led to the death of an innocent girl cannot be excused by strict interpretation of the law. He committed this crime not with his eyes closed. Considering the extent of the crime, he should have been tried as an adult, like they do in other countries. One can only say this: if the victim had been the daughter or sister of a high profile statesman, the result would have been very different.
Effective juvenile laws work in the U.S. and the U.K. as there is evidence that there are adequate monitoring mechanisms, and that such convicts repent and are rehabilitated. But, it does not seem to work in India if statistics are an indicator. The law needs amendment in India and must serve as a deterrent.
Correction is a subject matter that concerns the particular individual but the message from this verdict does not appear to help instil fear in juveniles to avoid succumbing to temptations of the vulgar and violent kind. However, the JJB cannot be faulted for the verdict, the existing laws being what they are.
It is regrettable that there is a demand for greater punishment for the youth. Three years of a reformatory term is just. In our society, such delinquents are generally shunned by their kith and kin. Once they finish their term, there is really no life left for them. They have to fend for themselves and suffer in silence till the end.