NEW DELHI: In a big development, the Juvenile Justice Board in Hyderabad has ordered for trial of four out of five minor accused in the Jubilee Hills minor girl gang-rape case as adults, saying they had physical and mental capacity and also understood the consequences of the offence.
The Board also noted that they were not under the influence of alcohol or other substance and further there were no compelling circumstances in which they allegedly committed the offence.
The minor boys hailed from affluent families with strong connections to AIMIM and the ruling TRS in Telangana. One of them is son of an MLA from AIMIM and another son of Telangana Waqf Board functionary.
As many as six persons were accused of trapping an unsuspecting minor girl into a luxury car and sexually assaulted her. The girl had gone to an afternoon party at an upmarket pub in Jubilee Hills in May this year.
One of them was an adult of over 18 years age and other five were between 16 and 18 years of age.
Since the alleged offences against child in conflict with law were heinous in nature and they were aged about 16 years to 18 years at the time of offences, the Board conducted preliminary assessment in compliance of Section 15 of the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2015 r/w Rule 10-A of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Model Rules, 2016.
However, no preliminary assessment was conducted in case of another child in conflict with law as the offences alleged against him were not heinous.
The Board took assistance of the Professor of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, Hyderabad. The Psychiatrist, the Board Member and the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate cum Principal Magistrate of JJ Board interacted separately with each and every child.
The Psychiatrist and the Board Member submitted their individual reports.
After their examination, the Psychologist submitted her independent reports on September 28, which stated that the accused boys had knowledge about consequences of the offence which they allegedly committed. They have mental and physical capacity and also understand the consequences of the offence, her report said.
The Board member, in her reports of September 29 agreed with the opinion of the psychiatrist that the accused boys have mental and physical capacity but differed on the aspect of their capacity to understand the legal consequences of their actions.
She opined that "the boys may have been lured by the welcoming approach of the victim and that they do not have legal education and hence unable to understand the legal consequences".
"However, I differ with the observation of the Board Member. Whether the victim lured the accused boys or not is an issue of fact and cannot be determined at this stage. This is only an enquiry to assess the physical and mental ability of the accused boys and to assess whether they understand the consequences of the offence or not," said Radhika Gavvala, ACMM cum Principal Magistrate of JJ Board.
"After my interaction with the accused boys, I am of the opinion that they have mental and physical capacity and also understand the consequences of the offence. They were not under the influence of alcohol or other substance. There were no compelling circumstances in which they allegedly committed the offence. Hence, I am of the opinion that they should be tried as adults having regard to the gravity of the offence alleged against them," she said.