Juveniles are not tried in regular courts and given lesser punishment under the Juvenil Justice Act if they commit heinous crimes.
In 2012, 273 inmates at Tihar were shifted to Juvenile homes after they were found to be minors. In 2011, the number was around 150.
An official at the prison said while only six inmates were sent to juvenile homes between December 1 and 25, the number rose to 19 in the last one month. He said the number might go up more for a number of prisoners have applied for the status.
The official added the rush for juvenile status started after the applicants learned how a gangrape accused could escape with milder punishment just because he is a juvenile. He said a number of prisoners have been telling the prison authorities that they were juveniles at the time of committing the crime.
The Tihar authorities said they were taking up only the genuine
applications for consideration.
They said the number of prisoners claiming themselves as juveniles has doubled after the Delhi gangrape. While 10 prisoners on an average used to approach the jail authorities every day, the number rose to almost 25 in the last one month.
Authorities said doctors were examining the inmates and in case the inmates appeared below 18 years, the concerned trial court was informed. Verification of school records or bone ossification test were being conducted to ascertain the inmate's age.