No need to lower age for 'juvenile', says ex-judge

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 29, 2013 10:31 hrs

New Delhi: Amid a demand for lowering the legally defined age for juvenile delinquents following the Delhi gang-rape, a retired high court chief justice Tuesday said that for one "horrific" incident law should not be changed.

"I agree the incident was horrific, but that doesn't mean that for one incident law should be changed. The law has been evolved after greater study by social scientists, academicians and criminologist," Justice Mukul Mudgal, a retired chief justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, told a news channel here.

Some politicians and women panels have been demanding that for defining "juvenile" the age limit should be lowered following the Dec 16 gang-rape, in which one of the six attackers is below the age of 18 years but was the most brutal.

The 23-year-old woman's family also Monday expressed dismay over the Juvenile Justice Board's stand that one of the six accused is a minor, implying that he would not face a maximum penalty of death in trial.

The retired judge said that the bone ossification test for the minor is not required.

"Bone ossification test will not give you the exact age, it will give an approximate age. When the school records are available, the bone ossification test does not help," Mudgal said.

Besides the juvenile, five other people are also accused in the gang-rape of the trainee physiotherapist in a moving bus. She died 13 days later in a Singapore hospital.

The Juvenile Justice Board declared the sixth accused as a juvenile on the basis of the date of birth on his school certificate which mentions June 4, 1995, making him 17 years and six months old at the time of the crime. This is below the age of 18 years, the legally defined age of an adult.

Justice J.S. Verma Committee, constituted to look into rape laws after the brutal incident in its report Jan 23 refused to propose the lowering of the legally defined age for juvenile delinquents from 18 to 16 years.

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