Even as protesters outside the Saket district courts here on Wednesday bayed for the blood of the four convicts in the December 16 gang-rape case, inside, the prosecution sought the death sentence for them. It argued before Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna that the case fell under the rarest of rare category.

However, counsel for the accused — Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh — pleaded against the capital punishment, arguing that they were not incorrigible.

Special Public Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan submitted that keeping in mind the brutality and diabolical nature of the crime and the depravity of the accused, the four deserved nothing less than the death sentence. He submitted that the accused did not deserve any sympathy. A message to deal with such crimes in a stern manner must be sent across society.

Referring to the gory crime committed against the 23-year-old physiotherapy student, Mr. Krishnan said the accused committed rape and later killed her even as the hapless girl begged for mercy.

But defence counsel, seeking a lenient punishment, alluded to their family background, economic status and clean past records.

Counsel for Pawan Gupta, 19, submitted that he had just entered into the adolescent stage of life. He was a fruitseller, and there was no separate evidence of any grave offence against him.

Counsel argued that Gupta be given an opportunity to reform himself considering that his conduct during the trial had been satisfactory.

Counsel for Vinay Sharma said he was a slum dweller, had an aged father and a sick sister to look after. He was very fond of pursuing his studies as despite staying in a jhuggi, he did not discontinue education.

Lawyer for Akshay Thakur said he had a three-year-old daughter to bring up. He had no previous criminal background.

There was hope that Mukesh could be reformed. He was so sensitive that he stopped his lawyer from cross-examining the victim’s mother during the trial, his lawyer submitted. Mukesh’s lawyer blamed his brother Ram Singh (since deceased) for his involvement in the crime. Ram was the prime accused in the case.

Later, Mr. Khanna reserved for Friday his order on the quantum of sentence.

The court had on Tuesday held all the accused guilty of gang rape, murder and unnatural sex.

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