The Juvenile Justice Board has ruled that one of the six men responsible for gang-raping and killing a woman on a bus last month is actually only 17 and must therefore stand trial in a juvenile court.
While this sounds like something that shouldn’t have needed an official ruling, ages in India are not always well-documented:
Although the court based its ruling on the suspect’s school records, its headmaster told BBC Hindi that he could not really be sure of his age.
“There is no concept of producing birth certificates in village schools at the time of admission. People just bring their children and tell us their approximate age.
“We admit a child based on what the parents tell us. We can’t really be sure of his age, but as per the school admission records, he is 17 years and six months old. He could be older than this, but I’m sure he is not younger,” he said.
Based on that evidence, how can he even be sure the suspect is not younger?
In any case, the police plan to challenge this ruling, demanding a bone ossification test as proof of age.