New Delhi: Five men have been charged with murdering and raping a physiotherapy student on a bus in Delhi last month. A sixth - who has been arrested - is 17, according to a school document, and has been kept at a juvenile home since he was arrested.
On the night of December 16, the six men took on the road a school bus that one of them used to drive every day. At a bus stop near a south Delhi mall, they saw a young girl waiting with a male companion at a bus stop.
It was the 17-year-old who allegedly called out to them, asking them where they were headed, and told them the bus would ferry them there. The bus had tinted windows and curtains, and appeared to be a chartered or privately-operated bus that is used to flank Delhi's notoriously-scanty public transport.
When the couple was on board, the teenager reportedly made lewd remarks about the girl, asking her why she was out with a man late at night. When her friend, a software engineer, intervened, he was hit with an iron rod. When she tried to save him, the men turned on her, using the same rod so mercilessly that her intestine would later be removed. Then they assaulted her sexually. The juvenile, according to police sources, was the most depraved - he raped her twice, once when she was unconscious, they say.
So far, the police has said that a bone test will be conducted on him to determine if he is under 18, which entitles him to be tried by a juvenile court where the maximum sentence would be three years in a reform facility.
But child welfare officials point out that according to the law, if a valid document like a school certificate states that the attacker is less than 18, he cannot be put through a medical test to check his age.
The police plans to send a team to the school in question to ensure the document is authentic.
At a meeting called by Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde today, representatives of different states agreed that the age limit for juveniles must be reduced from 18 to 16 - so anyone older than 16 should be tried and punished as an adult under criminal laws. (Read)