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People's verdict: Punish the accused juvenile like an adult
Almost seven months after the heinous Delhi gang rape, the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) in the city might have reserved its verdict till July 25 on the minor and one of six accused in the horrific crime, but all the people this citizen journalist spoke to have declared their verdict: the juvenile should be punished like an adult.

Sudha Sundararaman, General Secretary for All India Democratic Women's Association does not agree with a simple three-year sentence for such a crime. “When the juvenile has committed such a heinous crime, there should be a provision in law, which allows the juvenile to be punished severely. Unfortunately, the juvenile justice act has not made this provision,” she says.

As per the existing law, the juvenile faces a three-year sentence. According to the law, juveniles can’t be given a harsh punishment. The victim's family wanted the accused juvenile to be tried as an adult as well.

In spite of the number of charges against the juvenile, which include gang rape, murder, kidnapping, unnatural offences, attempt to murder, dacoity etc. he will most probably face a three-year sentence at a reformatory home. His name also will not be revealed so that he doesn’t face any job issues after coming out of reformatory center.

“The law needs to change. The accused will get away,” Ms Sundararaman says.

She doesn’t seem to be a lonely voice who wants harsh punishment for the minor accused. A Delhi resident, Shiv Prakash says that three years is just not enough punishment for such heinous crime. “The juvenile law should be changed and the age bar should be brought down from 18 to 16 years. A criminal cannot claim relaxation after committing such a serious crime,” he demands.

A native of Uttar Pradesh, the minor moved to Delhi when he was just 11 and started taking up menial jobs.

Immediately after the gang rape that outraged the nation and people started pouring out on the streets demanding death penalty for the culprits. Sensing the outrage, many state governments like Delhi, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, and Goa, among others, had felt the need to reduce the juvenile age limit from 18 to 16 years.

Swaraj Pakhrin, a Darjeeling resident, while taunting the juvenile law says a 17-year-old living in a city can’t be too innocent. “At 17, you are a young adult; if married, you are capable of producing children. Hence, he (juvenile) should be given the same punishment as that of the rest of the adults involved in the crime,” he says.

The JJB has recorded the statements of six prosecution witnesses including the victim's male friend and the carpenter during the enquiry. Pertinently, the counsel of the juvenile has said that there was no medical evidence against his client. He has also submitted that no finger prints have been detected that show his client’s innocence.

But treating him like a juvenile has added to the outrage of people who, it seems, would like to publicly hang all the rape accused. “He is an adult in his head and should be punished in the same manner as rest of the criminals involved in the heinous crime,” says Anita Khare.

The main accused Ram Singh allegedly committed suicide in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail by hanging and the rest of the accused, four adults, are being tried in a fast track court.

The victim who was named as “Nirbhaya” died thirteen days later in a Singapore hospital.

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