Evil also comes in small packages

To deal with the gangrape accused as a juvenile, just because he is still 5 months short of 18, would not be wise

adity

adity Srivastava | January 4, 2013



The justice delivery system in our country offers some protection to juveniles. Their identities are kept a secret, they are kept in rehabilitation homes away from dreaded criminals in jails, and they are dealt with softly to allow them scope to be better citizens in future.

But these applications sound fine only when the magnitude of crime in question is small, in keeping with the offender’s age; and not brutal in nature as was the gangrape and assault, eventually murderous, of the 23-year-old paramedic in the national capital on December 16.

After public anger spilled on to the streets, demanding justice for the victim and overall safety for women, a fast-track court to deal with the case was set up and the trial began on Thursday. Without wasting time, the Delhi Police filed a chargesheet against five of the six, seeking death penalty for each.

But despite reportedly being the most brutal in the assault on the young woman, the sixth accused has been spared — just because he is still five months short of being 18 years. Going by the Juvenile Justice Act, he can be let off in a few months.

Considering the immunity and leniency he would enjoy, despite being an equal partner in the crime, there have been demands to make suitable amendments in the Act to ensure minors involved in heinous crimes, like rape and murder, are also dealt with harshly.

I am no expert in law but I think the idea behind being lenient with minors culpable of crimes is based on the fact that their mental faculties are not as developed to differentiate between the good and the evil. Hence, their stay in rehab centres is an attempt to counsel them, and not punish them.

But in the present case, where the accused will be an adult in another five months, would it be wise to put him in the category of a juvenile? Is he lacking in wisdom by only five months, and would be a gentleman later in life?

The accused is not involved in a petty crime like stealing but in the most gruesome of crimes: rape, violence and murder. His reasoning abilities must have been intact even when he was committing the crime. What happened on the night of December 16 was a deliberate act, a planned act, to believe the police chargesheet. Wisdom does not dawn on us overnight, and keeping in mind the ghastliness of his act, it is time to review the Juvenile Justice Act and be wise.

If his age did not stop him from partaking in the bestiality, the minor, too, must meet the same fate as the other five.

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