An elderly Indian man rests against a tree with a banner against rape, in an area near the Indian parliament in New Delhi. (Altaf Qadri, AP)
AP on News24
New Delhi - A man convicted of the notorious 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder as a juvenile, will be freed after a court refused to extend his detention on Friday, lawyers said.
The man, now 20 years old, completes his 3-year term of detention at a reform facility in the Indian capital on Sunday.
Along with five other men, he was convicted of the gang rape and murder of a young woman on a bus in December 2012, a crime that shocked the subcontinent and drew the world's attention to rape culture in India.
The news comes after Subramanian Swamy - a lawmaker from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party party - submitted a legal challenge to stop the release, arguing that the rehabilitation plan would be ineffective.
But government lawyers said on Friday that the convict, who cannot be named because he was a minor at the time of the crime, could not be held in the facility any longer because he had served the maximum term possible under the law.
"Welfare departments will look after his rehabilitation post his release," government lawyer Anil Soni told reporters outside the court.
The Delhi Commission for Women said it will move the Supreme Court against his release and write to President Pranab Mukherjee and Chief Justice TS Thakur on the matter.
The government had told the court earlier that fundamental elements such as mental health assessment and a report from the convict's counsellor were missing from the rehabilitation plan, local media reported.
The plan was prepared by the reform facility, run by the Delhi state government. The victim's parents also said they did not want the man to be released as he remained a threat to society.
"The court let us down. We did not get justice. Despite all our efforts, the criminal will get away with what he did," the juvenile's mother told reporters on Friday.
The offender was just short of 18 years of age at the time of the crime and was sentenced to three years in a reform home, the maximum punishment under India's Juvenile Justice Act.
Four others convicted in the case were sentenced to death and a fifth was found dead in prison.
The sentencing of the juvenile was also seen as too lenient by others, including lawyers and politicians who sought to lower the age limit of the Juvenile Justice Act's purview for crimes like murder and rape. The 2012 gang rape had sparked mass protests and led to tougher anti-rape laws.