As the day of the ‘juvenile’ convicted in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case nears (he will be released on December 20), a palpable anger is building around.
Everyone is furious that the Delhi Government will help the now over 20-year-old rapist in his rehabilitation by providing him a one-time cash amount of Rs.10,000 and ask an NGO to donate a sewing machine to help him set up a tailoring shop.
— richa anirudh (@richaanirudh) December 15, 2015
Rarely did anyone care to read the law.
The AAP-led Delhi government is not doing anything out of the usual by providing such help to the convict. It is in fact acting under the directions issued by our laws.
This is what the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 explicitly states that a juvenile convict shall be rehabilitated and socially reintegrated via (i) adoption, (ii) foster care, (iii) sponsorship, and (iv) sending the child to an after-care organisation.
This is what the Delhi Government’s assistance falls under:
Chapter IV: Rehabilitation and Social Integration
43. Sponsorship.-(1) The sponsorship programme may provide supplementary support to families, to children’s homes and to special homes to meet medical, nutritional, educational and other needs of the children with a view to improving their quality of life.
(2) The State Government may make rules for the purposes of carrying out various schemes of sponsorship of children, such as individual to individual sponsorship, group sponsorship or
A reading of Delhi Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection Of Children) Rules, 2009 reveals this:
REHABILITATION AND SOCIAL REINTEGRATION
32. Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration. The primary aim of rehabilitation and social reintegration is to help children in restoring their dignity and self-worth and mainstream them through rehabilitation within the family where possible, or otherwise through alternate care programmes and long-term institutional care shall be of last resort.
38. After Care Organisation.
The key components of the programme shall include:-
(a) community group housing on a temporary basis for groups of young persons aged 18-21 years;
(b) encouragement to learn a vocation or gain employment and contribute towards the rent as well as the running of the home;
(c) encouragement to gradually sustain themselves without state support and move out of the group home to stay in a place of their own after saving sufficient amount through their earnings;
(d) provision for a peer counsellor to stay in regular contact with these groups to discuss their rehabilitation plans and provide creative outlets for their energy and to tide over crisis periods in their life.
In 2013, then Chief Justice of India had called for focus on childcare and rehabilitation and suggested that such children also be adopted and provided homes.
It is clear from the above that the laws have given more emphasis on the rehabilitation of someone convicted as a juvenile, to be performed as a duty by NGOs and the State governments.
Instead of blaming the Delhi Government the society needs to focus its attention on the Juvenile Justice Act 2000 that lays down rules and stresses upon the “care and protection” of the child offender and their rehabilitation irrespective of the nature of crime committed.
At the same time, the Centre had objected to the release of the convict based on an Intelligence Bureau report that said he had been radicalised (turned into a jihadi) inside the correctional facility where he was being kept.
The Centre also stated that several mandatory aspects were missing from the post-release rehabilitation plan. It has pointed out that the “mental condition” of the rapist has not yet been ascertained.
Thus the contention of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s call for a stay on the release of the rapist on this ground holds more water. As he points out, “The juvenile laws are applicable only for people committing crimes like stealing food or bicycle but this law is not applicable for such kind of heinous crimes. There is no provision in the law that if such juvenile accuse do not change in the three years, then what action needs to be taken.”