(The following is a guest post from our friends over at International Business Times.)
The Juvenile Justice Board declared Monday that one of the six suspects in a brutal Delhi gang-rape case is a juvenile. The verdict came in an appeal filed by the authorities seeking a bone marrow test on the accused to determine his age.
The susupect, whose name has not been released publicly, submitted school certificates indicating a date of birth of June 4, 1995. If tried as a juvenile, he faces a maximum sentence of three years in a juvenile facility. The five other suspects could be sentenced to life, if not hanged. Prosecutors say the suspect in question inflicted the most violent of the injuries to the 23-year-old woman who was assaulted on a city bus on Dec. 16. Prosecutors have vowed to appeal the board's decision.
Experts monitoring the case have said the government could still conduct a bone X-ray and dental test to determine the age of the accused, Zee News has reported. However, physical evidence of a person's age is based on comparing physical traits, such as tooth and bone development, to statisical averages. Forensic science can only provide a general estimate of age and would not be able to prove that a person is 17 rather than 18 years old.
The active involvement of the juvenile accused in such a heinous crime had sparked a nationwide debate on redefining the age of juveniles, with many urging to treat the suspect as an adult. However, India is a signatory to a United Nations agreement not to execute or inflict heavy punishments on minors, as defined as anyone under the age of 18.
The gang-rape of the paramedical student in a moving bus in South Delhi had created an uproar across the country over increasing incidences of violent crimes against women in India, besides forcing the authorities to take measures to improve the safety of women in public places. The victim died as a result of injuries incurred in the attack.
The suspects have been charged with abduction, rape and murder are facing trial in a Delhi fast track court.
Sreeja V N is a reporter for International Business Times, where this piece original appeared.