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Nirbhaya case: Delhi HC refuses to stop juvenile’s release

The case turned a global spotlight on the treatment of women in India, where police say a rape is reported every 20 minutes, and the sentence for the juvenile sparked debate over whether the country is too soft on minor offenders.

The court was hearing a petition by BJP member Subramanian Swamy, demanding a longer sentence for the man, who was 17 at the time of the crime, after he had received the maximum punishment of three years from the Juvenile Justice Board. The Delhi high court judges said they could not halt the man’s release because his sentence complied with existing law. “We don’t want to interfere in the Juvenile Justice Board,” the two judges said on Friday. 

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath, directed the Juvenile Justice Board to interact with the convict, his parents and officials concerned from the Department of Women and Child Development regarding his “rehabilitation and social mainstreaming”.

Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on Friday blamed Rajya Sabha for not passing the Bill to amend the Juvenile Justice Act, which seeks stringent punishment for minor aged 16-18 years involved in heinous crimes. “I would blame Rajya Sabha for not passing the law. Had they passed the Bill, he (accused juvenile) would not have gone scot-free,” she said. She said the existing law is insufficient to hold the punishment of the accused juvenile who was the most gruesome of the six rapists.

Police had accused the juvenile of being the most violent and said that he pulled out part of the woman’s intestines. 

Meanwhile, the victim’s mother Asha Devi said: “Crime has won and we have lost. Despite all our efforts for three years, our government and our courts have released a criminal. The assurance we were given was that we will get justice but that has not been delivered. We are very disappointed.”
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