The fate of four convicts in the December 16 gangrape and murder case will be known on Friday with a Delhi court set to pronounce the much-awaited order on whether their offence falls in the “rarest of rare” category warranting death sentence.
While the victim’s family demands nothing less than capital punishment, the convicts -- Mukesh (26), Akshay Thakur (28), Pawan Gupta (19) and Vinay Sharma (20) -- have begged for mercy before Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna, who had held them guilty of gangrape and “cold blooded” murder of a “defenceless” 23-year-old girl in a premeditated manner.
Having also been convicted for murder, the statute provides a minimum of life sentence and maximum of death penalty.
Demanding gallows for the four, the Delhi Police had on Wednesday claimed there was “no scope for sympathy” for their barbaric crime and pressed that “some crimes are so outrageous that the society also demands strict punishment”.
The defence counsel had, however, sought a chance for their reformation and went to the extent of quoting Mahatma Gandhi saying, “Only God can give life and only He has the right to take it away“.
The victim’s parents, who have been demanding death sentence for the convicts, say, “Justice will only be said to be done when all of them are hanged. Why should the court show mercy to them when they didn’t think twice before assaulting our only daughter?”
The court had on September 10 held the four guilty of various offences including gangrape, murder, unnatural offences, attempt to murder, dacoity, destruction of evidence, conspiracy, kidnapping or abducting in order to murder, while acquitting them of the charge of murder in dacoity.
The juvenile accused was on August 31 convicted and sentenced to a maximum of three years in a reformation home.
On the night of December 16, last year, Ram Singh, Vinay, Akshay, Pawan, Mukesh and the juvenile had gangraped the girl in a bus after luring her and her 28-year-old male friend, who was also assaulted, on board the vehicle, which was later found to be plying illegally on Delhi roads.
The victim’s friend, a software engineer, suffered fractures in his limbs in the incident. The girl succumbed to her injuries on December 29, 2012 at a Singapore hospital.
The incident shook the nation’s conscience and sparked massive protests. It prompted a number of steps by the Centre and the Delhi government to ensure safety of women, curb such incidents and facilitate quick disposal of cases.