The news that the sixth person involved in a 23-year-old Delhi student’s gang rape — which led to her death — has been declared a minor is deeply saddening. The judiciary and the lawmakers should understand that he was reportedly the most brutal in the group. A crime is a crime. The accused who is just about six months away from becoming an adult should be given stringent punishment if justice for the victim’s family is to be done.
The accused may be a minor in terms of age but treating him as a juvenile will enable one who has committed a heinous crime to walk free after three years. With such freedom for juveniles, the world will become the most dangerous place for women. The implication of treating the gang rape accused as a juvenile would be — those who are not yet 18 can commit brutal crimes and get away with them.
If the accused, a criminal, is treated mildly because he is “minor,” all the uproar and agitations against the killing of the Delhi student will be rendered futile. It may be legal to treat him as a minor but it is not just. Can a man who has committed a heinous crime evade punishment if he is 17 years, 11 months and 29 days old at the time of committing it?
If a person is old enough to commit a crime, he is old enough to receive punishment too. The court should overlook the age factor and give justice to the parents of the innocent woman who died a brutal death.
With due respect to the Juvenile Justice Board, I think it should consider factors other than just age to decide whether a person needs protection under the Juvenile Justice Act. The accused in question left his home and school and was working. He is accountable for his actions. Providing protection to him and enabling his quick and ‘reformed’ return to society will put the lives of women in danger.
The sixth accused was employed and nothing suggests that he was in an undeveloped state of mind. Although he is technically a ‘minor,’ the brutality with which he committed the crime, as established by facts of the case, does not entitle him to any lenience under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act. The state of one’s mind is a true indicator of ‘majority’ or ‘minority.’ This can be correctly assessed by a psychiatrist. This is a rare case warranting such an assessment.
S. Chidambaresa Iyer.