Amid the vociferous protest led by the parents of Nirbhaya at India Gate, the youngest and the most brutal of the six men convicted for heinous gangrape and murder of 23-year-old paramedical student Jyoti Singh — publically known as ‘Nirbhaya’ — walked out as a free man from a correction home in North Delhi on Sunday around 5 pm. He has been put under care and watch of an NGO in the national Capital.
Sources told The Pioneer that the rapist juvenile, now a major, sounded concerned about his safety and security after the release. He reportedly told the Delhi Police that he was not willing to go to his village in Budaun district of Uttar Pradesh as he feared for his life and requested to be put in the care of an NGO.
Earlier, Delhi Commission of Women (DCW) chairperson Swati Maliwal made a last-ditch effort to stop the release of the convict by filing a special leave petition (SlP) before the Supreme Court on Saturday night.
Armed with her petition and accompanied by her lawyer Rajesh Inamdar, Maliwal filed the plea with the Registrar of the apex court who then forwarded the same to the Vacation Bench of Justices Adarsh K Goyal and Uday Umesh lalit. The petition will be heard on Monday.
The freedom for the juvenile in conflict with the law, who has now turned 21, came around 5 pm on Sunday as parents of the December 16, 2012 gangrape victim continued their protest for the second day along with activists protesting his release and demanding death for him. The Delhi Police had declared Section 144 at India Gate — the venue of historic protests three years ago as the news of the horrific rape of the 23-year-old girl shook the nation — and moved the protesters to Jantar Mantar, the usual protest venue of the national Capital.
When contacted, a senior Delhi Police officer said that they would no longer be guarding the gangrape convict since he has completed his three-year sentence according to the Juvenile Justice Act. He is free to go wherever he wants to.
When asked two days ago whether he would like to go to his home, the gangrape convict had opted for safety under the custody of an NGO citing security concerns, said an official. The criminal record of the convict has been expunged and the police refused to disclose his identity.
The Juvenile Justice Board panel will monitor the convict’s movement and behaviour, the official added. The protests over the release of the gangrape convict continued all through the day with the victim’s parents and social activists first reaching bear India Gate.
They shouted slogans “Nabalig ko phansi do (award death penalty to the juvenile convict)…We want Justice.”
Then they moved from India Gate to Jantar Mantar. “The irony of this country is that the gang rape convict can move freely, but we are not allowed to hold protest in the heart of the Capital,” Nirbhaya’s father Badrinath Singh said. The victim’s mother, Asha Devi said : “Police is not allowing us to to move to India Gate. The right to protest is being denied to us.”
Reacting to the release of the juvenile offender, Asha Devi said:”All knew that he would be released one day or the other. This is a total failure of the Central and State Governments. Both should have taken adequate steps to prevent the release of this brutal killer.” Earlier, she had said, “If he (the juvenile convict) comes out then what is the point of a court hearing or anything...”
The rape convict’s release became possible notwithstanding the Delhi Commission for Women’s Saturday night effort to stall it failed after the Supreme Court post-midnight held a sitting and refused to stay it. In its order, the Supreme Court declined to stop the release of the juvenile offender and posted the matter before a vacation bench that will hear the matter on Monday.
Maliwal also urged the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) against going ahead on the release of the juvenile convict. Writing to Murari Prasad Singh, the Principal Magistrate at JJB-II, she said, “This is to bring to your kind notice that the DCW has moved a Special leave Petition (SlP) in Supreme Court last night challenging the imminent release of the juvenile boy in the gangrape case. The matter has been listed in Supreme Court for tomorrow and is thus sub-judice... I request you to kindly not precipitate the matter until the same is heard by Supreme Court tomorrow.”
Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju put the onus on the Delhi Government on the convict’s rehabilitation. He said that the Additional Solicitor General had already put across the Central government’s view in the court in the case. He said the Juvenile Justice Amendment Act was passed in lok Sabha but it could not get clearance in Rajya Sabha due to “disruption” by the Congress party.