21/12/2015 11:35 AM IST | Updated 29/08/2016 7:48 PM IST

Delhi Gang Rape: Supreme Court Allows Juvenile To Go Free

NEW DELHI -- The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition against the release of a convict in the Delhi Gang Rape case, who was minor when he sexually assaulted a physiotherapy student on a moving bus in the national capital on December 16, 2012.

The minor, now 20-years-old, was released on Sunday, and moved to an undisclosed location under the care of a non-government organization to ensure his safety.

Over the past two years, the parents of the student have agitated against what they consider a completely inadequate punishment when weighed against the pain and suffering endured by their daughter, who died on Dec 29, 2012.

Where is the justice, they ask.

"The women of this country have always been betrayed and this has happened once again. Nobody is concerned about women safety and there would never be any change in the Indian laws and women will never get justice," Asha Devi, the mother, told ANI.

In response to a petition against his release filed by the Delhi Commission for Women, the Supreme Court ruled that existing juvenile justice law in India does not allow for minors to be punished for more than three years.

The government's rehabilitation plan for the 20-year-old includes Rs10,000 and a sewing machine to set up a tailoring shop.

READ: Why The Juvenile Deserves A Second Chance

Delhi Gang Rape

While the 23-year-old fought for her life in hospital in December 2012, massive demonstrations for justice and women's safety erupted in the capital. Protestors called on the government to deliver speedy trials for the five adults and the minor, who assaulted her with an iron rod and threw her off the bus without any clothes.

The nation came to call her Nirbhaya (fearless) for trying hard to fend off the men and cooperating with the police despite her horrific injuries.

While one accused was found hanging from his prison cell before the trial could be completed, the other four adults were found guilty of rape and murder, and sentenced to death in September, 2013.

The minor was sentenced to three years in a correctional facility, which is the maximum punishment allowed for minors under Indian law. His released on Sunday triggered protests at India Gate.

The Delhi High Court confirmed capital punishment for the four men, but the Supreme Court has stayed their execution until it reaches a final decision on their appeals.

Change In Law For Minors

Outrage over the Delhi Gang Rape led to an expansion of what constitutes sexual crimes in India, and introduced stricter punishments including the death penalty for repeat offenders.

While public support for harsher punishment for minors has been growing since the gang rape, human rights groups fundamentally opposed legislating tougher penalties on juveniles since it contradicts universal standards.

In 2000, the age of juveniles was raised from 16 to 18 in India to conform to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In May, the Bharatiya Janata Party-majority Lok Sabha passed a bill, which allows 16- to 18-year-old offenders in heinous crimes to be punished as adults, with the exception of the death penalty.

The bill is now stuck in the Rajya Sabha, which has been crippled by political controversies, this Winter Session.

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