New Delhi: The Juvenile Justice Board on Thursday once again deferred its verdict on the 16 December Delhi gangrape and murder case of a 23-year-old medical student. The verdict will now be pronounced on 5 August.
The Board, presided by Principal Magistrate Geetanjali Goel, had earlier reserved the verdict for 25 July after counsel for the accused minor and the prosecution submitted their clarifications.
The juvenile accused in the case is being tried for the gangrape and brutal assault of the paramedic student in a moving bus in New Delhi on the night of 16 December, last year. The murder charge was slapped after the victim died on 29 December in a Singapore hospital.
If convicted, the minor faces a maximum sentence of three years in a correctional facility.
Parents of the gangrape victim sought death penalty for the juvenile accused, whom the police in its chargesheet had dubbed as the “most brutal” of all the six accused persons in the case.
According to a police official, the counsel for the juvenile accused submitted some clarifications related to the incident and also claimed that his client was innocent as he was “not present” in the bus on the night of 16 December.
The official said that the prosecution too submitted its reply to the contentions of the accused’ counsel.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court had on Tuesday agreed to hear the plea of Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy for a fresh interpretation of the term ‘juvenile’ which he raised in the wake of the 16 December gang-rape incident in New Delhi. The plea will be heard on 31 July.
Swamy told the apex court that his petition asking to consider the “mental and intellectual maturity” instead of age limit of 18 years for such offenders while fixing their culpability would become infructuous if the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) goes ahead with pronouncement of verdict already scheduled for 25 July.
Taking note of his submission, a bench comprising Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked him to inform the JJB about his pending petition in the apex court.
“Inform the Board that we are seized of the matter,” the bench said.
The juvenile, an Uttar Pradesh native, had moved to Delhi when he was 11-years-old and had taken up menial jobs.
The case had sparked intense debate on anti-rape laws and whether the definition of juveniles as per the law should be lowered.
During the trial, his counsel had contended that there was no medical evidence to connect him with the charges and no finger prints could be detected in the bus to show his complicity.
The defence counsel had claimed the juvenile had been implicated by the police.
He had also said that the victim’s male friend, who is the complainant in the case, did not depose against him even before the JJB and alleged that Ramadhar, who is said to have identified him as one of the six accused in the bus, had deposed falsely at the behest of the police.
Besides the juvenile, the four adult accused–Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur–are being tried by a special fast track court.
Proceedings against key accused Ram Singh abated after his death on 11 March when he was found hanging in his cell in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
All the accused in the case have been charged with gangrape, murder, criminal conspiracy, unnatural sex, robbery, dacoity, besides other sections of the IPC.
With PTI inputs