Suspect’s elementary school certificate indicated that he was under 18 years of age at the time of the Dec. 16 attack.
The sixth accused in the case of December 16 gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student here was on Monday declared by the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) as a “minor”, which would enable him to walk free by June 4, this year when he attains the age of 18 years.
The accused, who was described as the most brutal of the six accused by the Delhi Police in its charge sheet, was declared as 17 years and six months and 24 days-old (as of today) by the JJB, which relied on his birth certificate and school documents produced before it.
Section 15 (g) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act mandates that a juvenile aged between 16-18 years if convicted of any offence can be sentenced to be sent to a special home for a period of three years at the maximum, and, thereafter, be released on probation.
However, section 16 of the Act also provides that a juvenile can only be kept at the special home till he attains 18 years of age and he cannot be sent to jail thereafter, which in effect will result in his release.
The JJB also rejected the police’s plea for bone ossification test of the sixth accused for determining his age.
Lawyers appearing for the prosecution said they appeal against the JJB order in a higher court.
Earlier on January 15, the principal of the school, from where the juvenile had droppoed out, had submitted before the JJB that as per the school records he is 17 years and six months-old.
The present and the former headmasters of the school in Bhawanipur at Badaun in Uttar Pradesh, where the juvenile had studied till Class III, had appeared before the Board and said they cannot identify the boy but know that he took admission in the school in 2002.
The former principal said that during the time of admission, the boy’s father had come to admit him and mentioned his date of birth as June 4, 1995.
The five other accused — Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh and their accomplices Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur– have been charged with the offences of murder, gangrape, attempt to murder, kidnapping, unnatural offences, dacoity, hurting while committing robbery, destruction of evidence, criminal conspiracy and common intention under the IPC.
The 23-year-old paramedical student was brutally raped and assaulted in a moving bus on December 16 and she died on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.
The juvenile is the eldest son of a mentally challenged father and his mother relied on farming to raise his two brothers and two sisters in a small hamlet at Badaun.
The investigators had said that around five to six years ago, he fled from his home and came to Delhi where he did small jobs till he met Ram Singh, who was driver of the bus.
The police sources had said that on the fateful night, all the accused had partied and had then gone on a joy ride in bus and to “pick some girl for sexual pleasure” .
They had first robbed Ramadhar Singh, who they had picked up from R K Puram Sector 4 and then dumped him near IIT gate.
And from Munirka, they had picked up the gang-rape victim and her male friend and dumped them on the road assuming they were dead, according to the sources.