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Youngest convict walks free amid protests

This came after a series of dramatic, late night developments on Saturday after the Supreme Court refused the remarkable post-midnight move of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) to get the release stayed seeking an urgent hearing to the matter. The juvenile convict was released from the correctional facility where he had been lodged since December 2012.

A vacation Bench comprising Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit in their order pronounced at 2 am on Sunday, posted the matter for hearing on Monday. The special leave petition filed by DCW against the order of the Delhi high court, which refused to restrain the release of the convict, was referred by the Chief Justice of India T S Thakur before the vacation Bench.

The juvenile convict was moved out of correctional home on Saturday, a day before his scheduled release. The convict, who is now 20 years old and was known to be the most brutal of the attackers, was taken to an undisclosed location amid concerns that there was a threat to his life. Nirbhaya’s parents said they were disappointed with the Supreme Court order refusing to stay his release and said they wanted justice. “I just want justice. I want stay on his (juvenile convict) release. Hearing is just to mislead the people. They (DCW) tried in night. They might have been able to stop the release if they had tried during the day,” said the victim’s mother Asha Singh. The victim’s parents had even staged a protest on Saturday against the release of the juvenile convict.

The protest started at around 5 pm and within half-an-hour, a large number of protesters, comprising mostly students and activists gathered at a stretch on Rajpath, blocking the road.

The police declared Section 144 at India Gate and moved the protesters to Jantar Mantar. But they later moved back to India Gate, with plans to hold a candle-light vigil on Sunday evening. Protesters, including Nirbhaya’s parents, who had gathered at India Gate were detained by the police.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has said that it will hear the last-minute petition against the convict’s release filed by the DCW on Monday. The Centre said it had opposed the release. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said: “In principle, the Central government opposed the release of the juvenile offender at this stage for which we have presented our position before the honourable Delhi high court.”

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