New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea by Delhi Commission for Women against the release of the juvenile convict in the brutal Nirbhaya gang-rape case, while observing that “we share your concern, but we cannot go beyond the law.”
DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal comes out of Supreme Court after her petition challenging the juvenile’s release was dismissed. Photo: V. Sudershan
“We cannot interpret the law (Juvenile Justice Act) to curtail his (juvenile convict) freedom without legislative sanction. We share your concern, but we cannot go beyond the statute,” Justice U.U. Lalit, one of the judges on the Bench led by Justice A.K. Goel, observed.
When the government said it supported DCW Chairperson Swati Maliwal’s plea that the juvenile convict should not be released till such time he is reformed, Justice Goel said “you are saying without the law backing you… go first and make the law.”
“Suppose the reformation takes another seven or ten years? Do we have to extend the period of his detention every now and then without any legislative sanction?” Justice Lalit asked senior advocate Guru Krishnakumar, who argued for Ms. Maliwal.
Mr. Krishnakumar quoted provisions in the Juvenile Justice Act and the Delhi Juvenile Justice Rules to argue for an independent committee to review the juvenile convict’s mental status and keep him under protective custody till he reforms and is not a threat to the society.
“Are you for the rehabilitation of the child or for the detention of the child?” Justice Goel asked.
Mr. Krishnakumar quoted Rule 38 (after care organisation), which allows for care and monitoring after release.
“He need not be considered outside the realm of law on release. This provision can be used for two years till he attains the age of 21,” Mr. Krishnakumar urged.
But the court checked him, saying that this provision was only available to juvenile convicts who have no place to go after their release.
“Sorry Mr. Kumar, you don’t have a case here,” Justice Lalit’s words conclued the short hearing.