Hyderabad: The Juvenile Justice Board on Thursday granted five-day police custody of three juveniles in Jubilee Hills gang rape case.
The police will question the accused in juvenile home from Friday. The questioning will take place in the presence of their lawyers.
Investigating officers from Jubilee Hills police station will record the statements of the minor accused. The Juvenile Board has asked police officials to question the juveniles in plain clothes.
The Board granted the custody on a petition by the police, who are looking to gather more information about the May 28 incident.
The Juvenile Board’s order came on a day when police began questioning the only major accused in the case.
A day after a city court granted the police custody of Saduddin Malik, Jubilee Hills police took him into their custody from Chanchalguda Central Prison.
Though police sought custody of the accused for seven days, the court on Wednesday granted four days custody.
The 18-year-old was being grilled at an undisclosed location. The investigators are looking to gather more information in the sensational case, which has triggered national outrage.
Police are also likely to approach the Juvenile Board for custody of the remaining two juveniles in the case. Both the accused were sent to juvenile home on Wednesday.
The police are also planning to appeal to the Juvenile Board to allow the trial of all juveniles in the case.
Police are keen to rule out the chances of the accused escaping harsh punishment for being minors.
Out of five accused who sexually assaulted the girl, four are aged 16-17. The sixth accused who has been charged only with molestation is one month short of turning 18. He is the son of a MLA of Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM).
The four minors charged with gang rape include son of a leader of ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS). The leader is also the chairman of a government-run body. Two others are said to be sons of TRS corporators in Greater Hyderabad and Sangareddy. The other accused are also from affluent and politically influential families.
Meanwhile, TRS Working President K. T. Rama Rao has welcomed and supported the stand of the police. “If you are adult enough to commit a crime as heinous as rape, one must also be punished as an adult & not as juvenile,” he tweeted.
Malik (18) and four minor have been booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 376 D (gang rape), 323 (causing hurt), Section 5 (G) (gang penetrative sexual assault on child) read with Section 6 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 366 (kidnapping a woman) and 366 A (procuration of a minor girl) and Section 67 of Information Technology Act .
Hyderabad Police Commissioner C.V. Anand said the accused could face punishment for not less than 20 years or imprisonment for life till death or even death penalty.
The sixth Child in Conflict with Law (CCL) was not involved in rape but he kissed the victim in the car. He has been booked under IPC Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 323 and Section 9 (G) read with 10 of POCSO Act. He could face 5-7 years imprisonment.
The incident occurred on May 28 after the victim and accused attended a daytime party at a pub in upscale Jubilee Hills.
After the victim left the pub, the accused trapped her. She boarded a car with the accused to go to a bakery in Banjara Hills and enroute four juveniles forcibly kissed her, made the videos and circulated it.
After spending sometime at the bakery, Malik and four minors took the victim in an Innova to an isolated place in Jubilee Hills and raped her in the vehicle, by rotation. They later dropped her at the pub.
The incident came to light three days later after the girl’s father grew suspicious about the injuries on her neck and approached the police.
Based on her statement and the CCTV footage gathered from different locations and other evidence, police arrested all the accused.