Dec 16 gangrape: SC upholds death for four rapists

RSTV Bureau

File photo of Supreme Court of India.

The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence awarded to the four convicts in the December 16, 2012 gang rape and murder case, where a 23-year-old woman was brutally assaulted and raped by six men in a moving bus. The victim passed away from injuries two weeks after the incident.

A unanimous verdict by a three-judge SC bench upheld the Delhi High Court judgement, which was also in line with the trial court decision.

The apex court observed that the convicts had treated the victim as an object of enjoyment, with the single purpose of ravishing her. The court also said that the crime had sent out a “tsunami of shock” and was a ‘rarest of rare’ case in which the most brutal, barbaric and diabolical attack was carried out.

The four convicts Mukesh (29), Pawan (22), Vinay Sharma (23) and Akshay Kumar Singh are now set to face the gallows. The prime accused in the case, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail. Another convicted juvenile was sentenced three years of punishment in a reform home.

In Friday’s judgement, the bench noted every gory detail which the victim suffered at the hands of the convicts. The court said the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances like the poor family background, young age of accused, good conduct in prison, marital status, small kids and so on.

The bench also said the nature and the manner of the crime had devastated social trust and it fell in the ‘rarest of rare’ category, warranting death penalty.

It court added that the criminal conspiracy charge of four convicts, Ram Singh and juvenile has been established, even after efforts were made to destroy evidence like running the bus over the victim and her friend after they were thrown out of it.

The court maintained that the testimony of the victim’s friend who was with her in bus and the first prosecution witness, was impeccable and relied upon.

While Delhi Police had sought capital punishment for the convicts, the defence counsel had said they deserved leniency considering their poor family background and young age.

The police had told the bench that the horrific crime warranted death penalty and the test of being a “rarest of rare” case was satisfied in this matter and the court should also consider the effect of crime committed by them on the victim and the society at large.

Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, who has assisted the court as an amicus curiae, had told the bench that there was no doubt that the crime committed was of “immense proportion” but as the evidence was not concrete, it does not warrant death penalty.

Senior counsel Raju Ramachandran, also an amicus curiae, had said that option of awarding jail term for the whole life to these convicts may also be considered.

Advocates AP Singh and ML Sharma, representing the four convicts, had said they should be given a chance to reform and considering the mitigating factors, the court should not award them death penalty. They also raised questions about the evidence collected by the police in the matter.

The 23-year-old paramedic student was brutally assaulted and raped by six persons in a moving bus in south Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle with her male friend on the night of December 16, 2012. She had died in a Singapore hospital on December 29 that year.

The court gave its verdict while deciding the appeals of the four convicts in the case that had shaken the entire nation’s conscience. The convicts had challenged the conviction and death penalty awarded to them by the high court on March 13, 2014.

(With inputs from PTI)