MUMBAI: With an impressive track record of 630 life imprisonments and 28 death penalties under his belt, nobody was surprised when Ujjwal Nikam was called in by the state government of Maharashtra as special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam in the case of a photojournalist’s gangrape.
Now, echoing the thoughts of millions of Indians following the verdict of the Juvenile Justice Board in the case of the juvenile accused in the Delhi gangrape case, Nikam has said, “The past criminal record of the accused, his family background and the nature of the crime committed should also be taken into account when deciding whether the person should be given the benefit of juvenile status or not.”
Nikam isnot in favour of every accused being classified a juvenile. The ace lawyer has made the comments in an interview to DNA and was referring to the fact that one of the accused in the Mumbai case is a juvenile offender.
He has added that age for juvenile boys was earlier set at 16 years. The alteration was made with a view to stay in consonance with global views on child rights and the prosecutor believes that while the move was done to prevent juveniles from becoming hardened criminals it wasn’t applicable anymore. Nikam said that due to mediums of information like the Internet, only physical age couldn’t be a criteria to classify an accused as a juvenile.
He has also told DNA that no case can be considered an open-and-shut case. Evidence gathering would be of critical importance in the Mumbai gangrape case too, he said.
Nikam has been a common factor among major high-profile criminal trials in Maharashtra, from the 26/11 terror attack trial in which Mohammed Ajmal Kasab was handed the death sentence to earlier cases including the 1993 serial blasts and the murder of BJP leader Pramod Mahajan.