The juvenile convict in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case may walk free on December 20, unless the Delhi high court intervenes in support of the Centre’s concerns, expressed through a secret Intelligence Bureau assessment that claimed he had been radicalised.
On Monday, the Delhi government’s department of women and child development (WCD) unveiled a rehabilitation plan for the juvenile – who is over 20 years now – under which it will give him a one-time financial grant of Rs 10,000 and arrange for a sewing machine so that he can rent a tailoring shop. The move provoked objections from the Centre which remained apprehensive about his “mental condition” and wanted his detention extended. The court reserved its order on the issue.
“The juvenile in Nirbhaya case needs to be supported financially, jointly by his parents and by the Delhi government,” the WCD department said in a report, adding that he needed help to sustain a business for an initial period of at least six months and meet expenses such renting a shop and procuring tailoring material, a signboard for his shop, receipt books, hangers etc.
‘No one knows his mental state’
The WCD department said, one day before the youth’s release, his parents and close relatives should be brought to Delhi at the government’s expense and accompanied by WCD officials, “in a safe and secure manner, preferably in a private taxi”. The report says officials can then accompany him to his home state “in a private taxi other than the one in which they were brought to Delhi, in absolute confidentiality”.
The department plans to visit his village again, before giving a report to the Juvenile Justice Board and the government
Picking holes in the WCD plan, additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain urged the court to postpone his release and questioned the Delhi government’s silence on his “condition” and the fears raised in the IB report. The ASG maintained that the juvenile shouldn’t be released till the management committee appointed under the Juvenile Justice Act answers some key queries. He sought an extension of the juvenile’s stay till the time all “missing aspects” in the post-release plan are taken into account. The 20-year-old, who has served the maximum detention period of three years permitted under the Juvenile Justice Act, is scheduled to be released on December 20.
“Proper check ups have not been put in place by the management committee. What is his mental condition, no one knows. Is he willing to join the societal mainstream in view of the IB report and what are the follow up action contemplated once he is released. All these aspects are completely missing,” the ASG submitted before a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath.
After hearing the arguments briefly the court reserved its verdict on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s petition seeking a stay on the juvenile’s release on the ground that he poses a threat to society in light of the IB report. In his plea, Swamy argued that though the juvenile’s term may have ended, but the court can “circumscribe” his movements.
Wrapping up its hearing, the court indicated it will take into account the IB report and the rehabilitation plan filed by Delhi government before taking a call on the juvenile’s release. In his petition, Swamy has claimed that there is lacuna in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000, as amended in 2011. He contended that “no provision has been made in the Act to provide for vicious unregenerate convicted juveniles who despite having undergone the reformation process for the maximum penalty of three years custody in a special home, continue to be a menace to society”.
“It is learnt that there is a report of the home ministry of wherefrom it emerges that this juvenile has not reformed but has become worse, having been radicalised by association with another juvenile convicted of involvement in the 2011 Delhi high court blast,” the plea said. Swamy also said in the petition that the JJ Board should be given some “teeth to deal with such a case of an unreformed juvenile criminal”.
The Supreme Court had earlier rejected Swamy’s petition challenging the constitutional validity of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000.