In a highly controversial and closely watched development, the juvenile rapist convicted in the high-profile 'Nirbhaya' or Jyothi Singh rape case got relief after the Delhi High Court refused to extend his three-year term at the juvenile home. The juvenile was under 18 at the time of the crime and was tried under the Juvenile Justice Act and was sentenced to three years in a remand home.
Several voices have erupted against the release of the juvenile, which now seems certain. The parents of the rape victim, Jyothi Singh, have also taken a strong position against the juvenile rapist’s release.
Amidst this, several myths are being propagated about the case, the juvenile in conflict with the law and the juvenile justice bill.
Myth 1: He will not be roaming free, and he will be under ‘detention’ or a ‘watch’
He is as free as a bird, almost. The law can have no further hold on him. He has served his sentence and he is free to do what he wants with his life. He will however get support from the government to re-join mainstream society. Kiran Bedi has suggested that he should be detained under CrPc 105/151, a section used if someone poses imminent danger.
Myth 2: The juvenile was the most brutal among all the rapists
This “fact” has been bandied about carelessly across TV channels by reporters and anchors alike.
Quoting from a letter of member of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) to the Press Council in 2013,
“To gain an insight into the role of the accused juvenile in the 16th December gang rape incident, the Commission called for the final order ( no. 2012 dated 31.08.2013) from the Juvenile Justice Board-2, Delhi, the records of evidences and the affidavits filed and reviewed the same.
It has been established from the investigation that the juvenile was not the most brutal among the offenders as claimed by the media and his in perpetrating the crime was secondary.”
There is simply no proof on record to show that he was the most brutal rapist.
Myth 3: He will be monitored by a special management committee.
There is no special committee which exists or has been created in this case.
In accordance to the Juvenile Justice rules, after the three year term, the juvenile will be kept under an ‘individual care plan’ until he turns 21-years of age.
According to the rules, “After attaining the age of 18 years, the children residing in these institutions are obliged to leave and look for alternate shelter as well as other means of livelihood. Since many of these children do not have families or any other place to go, the Juvenile Justice law mandates ‘after-care’ organisations and programmes to facilitate the transition of such young people from an institutional-based life to mainstream society. “
There is a management committee in all homes that is a part of the pre and post-release process.
The rules state - “Each case shall be placed before the Management Committee set-up under rule 55 of these rules by the concerned probation officer or child welfare officer or case worker for ensuring proper release and social mainstreaming of the juvenile post-release.”
There will only be a post-release review process from time to time by the management committee.
Myth 4: Various authorities are doing the juvenile a favour by helping him find a vocation, including a tailoring shop.
According to the rules, loans may be arranged for the youth in an aftercare programme aspiring to set-up entrepreneurial activities on the basis of an application made by them and due verification of the need for such a loan, and necessary professional advice and training shall be made available.
He can be given Rs. 2000 per month under the Integrated Child Development Scheme which will help him get rehabilitated, and that too is according to existing law and not special treatment. All such help to anyone who was in a home can be extended till they turn 21.
Myth 5: Had the Parliament enacted the new Juvenile law, he would not be free
Simple reason why this is wrong: no law can be enacted in retrospect.
Myth 6: Rape is a crime which is high or common amongst juveniles
Here is what NCRB report from 2014 says, “The highest share of cases registered against juveniles were reported under the crime head ‘theft’ (20.0%), ‘rape’ (5.9%) and ‘grievous hurt’ & 'assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty' (4,7% each). These four crime heads have together accounted for 39.7% of total IPC cases (33,526 cases) of juveniles in conflict with law.”