SC examining plea by Nirbhaya’s family to treat juvenile serious offenders as adults

The parents of Nirbhaya (not her real name) – the young medical student who was fatally gang raped on December 16 last year by a group of five adults and one minor in the heart of Delhi – appealed to the Supreme Court to change laws so that juveniles are not automatically entitled to softer sentence.

SC examining plea by Nirbhaya’s family to treat juvenile serious offenders as adults. Based on the family’s request, the apex court is now examining whether or not the judge handling serious offences such as rape and murder should possess the discretion to evaluate the maturity of a serious offender and only then decide if he or she should be treated as an adult/juvenile offender.

On the night of December 16, Nirbhaya and a male friend were deceived by the 6 accused into boarding the bus they took out for a joy ride. The group then physically assaulted the two before throwing them out on the street.

While Nirbhaya’s friend survived, she succumbed to her internal injuries caused by the brutal sexual assault.

The perpetrators included five adults and one juvenile who later turned adult during the course of the trial. While one adult committed suicide in jail before the trial was finished, the others were awarded death sentence by a trial court. The juvenile (now an adult) was however given only three years in a home for delinquents.

According to the parents of the deceased victim, the punishment awarded to the juvenile was not severe enough given the seriousness and brutality of the crime. The next hearing by the apex court on the issue will come on January 6, 2014. The court has also asked the government to present its stand on the petition filed by Nirbhaya’s family.

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