New Delhi: The CBI investigation into the alleged Hathras gangrape and murder case has yielded a marksheet that suggests one of the suspects is a minor, ThePrint has learnt.
According to the document, obtained by the CBI from the suspect’s house in Hathras, his date of birth is 2/12/2002, which means he will attain adulthood in December. A copy of the marksheet, issued in 2018, has been accessed by ThePrint.
Asked about the marksheet, a CBI official said, “We have collected the documents as part of the investigation. Will continue with the probe considering all legalities.”
Being below 18 years will not necessarily be enough for the suspect to dodge trial as an adult if he is found guilty of the crime, since the charges invoked are rape and murder. He is one of four people arrested in the case so far.
The Hathras gangrape case refers to the alleged gangrape of a 20-year-old Dalit woman on 14 September. The woman is also believed to have been brutally assaulted by her assailants and she died of her injuries two weeks later.
In the wake of her death, the Uttar Pradesh authorities have not only been criticised for allegedly not taking the family’s complaint seriously when they first approached them, but also for her hurried cremation.
The CBI began its investigation in the case earlier this month, after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath referred the investigation to the central agency.
‘My son is a minor’
In its investigation so far, the CBI has questioned the woman’s family, all the four accused, their families, and also met the doctors at the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital, where the woman was treated after the alleged gangrape.
Given the gravity of her injuries, she was subsequently taken to New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, where she died on 29 September.
Speaking to ThePrint, the family of the “minor” suspect said he has been falsely accused in the case, adding that efforts have been made to “dilute the fact that he is a minor”.
“My son is a minor, the CBI took the marksheet, his date of birth shows he is a minor,” a family member said.
According to his father, he had actually “provided water to the girl” when she was found grievously injured in the field by her mother. The family claims the minor was cutting grass with his mother to feed their cattle when the woman was discovered.
Can be tried as an adult
Under the 2015 Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, those aged 16 to 18 years can be tried as adults if they are found to have committed a “heinous crime”.
“Heinous offences are those that are punishable with imprisonment of seven years or more. In this case, because the allegations are of rape and murder, therefore the alleged crime definitely comes under the scope of heinous offences,” said Supreme Court lawyer Amish Aggarwalla.
“The Juvenile Justice Board will consider whether the juvenile in question, who is above the age of 16 years, should be tried as an adult or not in the case of a heinous offence, and if it decides so, it then refers the matter to the relevant children’s court, which will try the accused as an adult,” Aggarwalla added.