New Delhi: As decks seemed to be cleared for the release of the juvenile convict in December 16 gang-rape case, Union minister Maneka Gandhi on Friday blamed Rajya Sabha for not passing the Bill to amend the Juvenile Justice Act which seeks stringent punishment for children aged between 16-18 involved in heinous crimes.
"I would blame Rajya Sabha for not passing the law. Had they passed the Bill, he (accused juvenile) would not have gone scot-free," Gandhi said outside Parliament.
She said the existing law is insufficient to hold the punishment of the accused juvenile who was the most gruesome of all six rapists.
The juvenile convict, now 20, is likely to walk free on Sunday after his three-year sentence at a correction home gets over.
"There is nothing that we can do as the existing law cannot deal with this," the Union Minister for Women and Child Development said.
Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti said though the court's decision cannot be questioned, the matter needs to be deliberated upon to find a solution.
"I cannot question the court's decision as it works in the ambit of laws. We will have to deliberate upon possible solutions in this matter," she said.
However, BJP leader and former top cop Kiran Bedi said even after he is released, the 20-year-old youth can be arrested by Delhi police for apprehension of breach of peace.
"Rapist being released can be arrested by Delhi Police under 107/151 of CRPC for apprehension of breach of peace till SC considers parents petition," she tweeted.
The order evoked dismay among activists who said that it was necessary to ascertain that the youth has been reformed before releasing him in the society. "The probationary officer appointed by the Juvenile Justice Board is supposed to present the assessment report to the law enforcement agencies saying that he is fit to go back to society or that he is no more a threat."
"It is very understandable that High Court could have made a directive as we have not passed the law. Lawmakers are not serious about it, that is why they are letting this legislation without amendments hanging in Rajya Sabha," said social activist Ranjana Kumari.
Delhi Commission for Women Chairperson Swati Maliwal said she would appeal to the Chief Justice of India, Delhi High Court and write to the President against the release of the juvenile.
"Some kind of analysis needs to be done as to what kind of reformation this man has gone through. We are hounded by e-mails, messages and calls from women who are feeling scared with the very fact that this man will come out in open, he could be travelling in a taxi or a bus. India needs to know
what reformation he has gone through," Maliwal said.
Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee said," It is a collective responsibility but primarily of the state because the whole focus of our judicial system is not retributive but reformative. And we focus on giving second chance to a person and specifically in the cases like this. Youth have got so much energy and if it is not channelised positively it can turn destructive."
Brushing aside the public outcry against his release, a High Court bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath directed the Juvenile Justice Board to interact with the convict, his parents and concerned officials of Department of Women and Child Development regarding his "rehabilitation and
The bench said BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's plea seeking stay on the release of juvenile convict cannot be allowed as the statutory and existing law was coming in its way.