NEW DELHI // India's supreme court yesterday cleared the way for a juvenile court to hand down its verdict on a teenager charged over the gang-rape and murder of a student on a bus last December.
The youth is one of six men accused of the deadly assault which shocked India and sparked weeks of protests.
The juvenile court has delayed giving its verdict in the case against him four times because of a legal challenge.
But the Supreme Court said yesterday that the court should proceed regardless of its hearing on a petition for a review of the juvenile law.
"The juvenile board can go ahead with its proceedings and pass orders accordingly," Chief Justice P Sathasivam said.
Subramanian Swamy, an opposition leader, has filed a petition in the supreme court arguing that suspects over the age of 16 who are accused of serious offences should be tried in adult courts.
The accused was 17 at the time of the horrific attack which took place on a moving bus, after which the 23-year-old victim died of internal injuries.
The juvenile court is now expected to hand down its verdict at its next hearing, which is scheduled for August 31.
The attack generated widespread anger about attitudes towards women and sex crimes in India. Public outrage and protests pushed the parliament to pass a new law toughening sentences for sex offenders, while a round of public soul-searching sought to explain the rising tide of violence against women.
The trial of the adult suspects - one of whom died in jail from a suspected suicide in March - continues in a separate court which has started hearing final arguments.
Mr Swamy said he was "completely satisfied" with the judgement of the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear his petition into a review of the juvenile law in general but not specifically on the juvenile's case.
The juvenile, a runaway who reportedly left home at the age of 11, can be sent to a correctional facility for a maximum of three years if found guilty, minus time he has already spent in custody.
The adults face the death penalty if convicted.