India’s Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty for four men convicted in the horrific gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi that led to her death.
The young paramedic student was brutally assaulted by five men and a juvenile on a moving bus she had boarded with a male friend. She died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital due to the injuries she suffered.
The court dismissed the appeals filed by four convicts – Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh – against the Delhi high court’s order. While one juvenile completed his three-year sentence in a juvenile home, another accused, Ram Singh, committed sucide in Tihar jail. The four men sentenced to death are all in their twenties.
Calling it brutal, diabolical and barbaric, the Supreme Court said the crime shook the conscience of society. The Court said the crime’s perverse nature put it in the “rarest of rare category” that called for the death penalty.
The bench also praised the Delhi police for completing the investigation in a professional manner and for bringing the culprits to book.
The bench held that the charge of “conspiracy” to commit the offence of abduction, robbery/dacoity, gang rape and unnatural sex has been proved beyond reasonable doubt. The victim’s dying declaration is consistent; it has been corroborated and has found acceptance, the bench said and dismissed the appeals of the four accused.
In its judgment, the apex court said the intention to run the bus over the victim after committing the heinous crime suggested that all possible efforts were made to destroy the evidence.
The incident prompted the government to speed up trials for rape and toughen penalties for offenders. After the public uproar over the incident, a panel was constituted to relook intp laws related to sexual assault. Acting on the suggestions of the Justice JS Verma panel, Parliament passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, which came into effect on April 2, 2013. The Act widened the definition of rape.