The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the death penalty for the four convicted in the 2012 Delhi gang rape case.
"She was reduced to an object for their gross sadistic pleasures. They played with her dignity in a devilish manner," the court said. The crime was a devastation of social trust and of inconceivable brutality.
On the events of that fateful day, the court said, "Little did she know on that cold winter night that her world would come to a devastating end... Convicts left the victim and her companion for dead, tried to run over them with the bus, looted them and shared the booty."
The shattering of the victim's intestine with an iron rod, the tearing of her clothes, looting and a bestial sexual assault make the gang rape a rarest of rare cases, the court said.
The verdict was met with applause in the court room.
The court said the investigation by the Delhi Police has been comprehensive."Testimony of the victim’s friend who was with her in the bus and the first prosecution witness is unimpeccable and relied upon. The victim’s dying declaration is consistent; it has been proved beyond doubt and corroborated...Aggravating circumstances outweigh mitigating circumstances in the case; offence created a 'tsunami of shock'," the court said.
Those who will face the gallows are Mukesh (29), Pawan (22), Vinay Sharma (23) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31).
One of the accused, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail, while a convicted juvenile was sentenced three years of punishment in a reform home.
A.P. Singh, lawyer for the accused, said, "We'll read the judgment and file a review petition."
The victim was assaulted and raped by six persons in a moving bus in south Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle along with her male friend on December 16 night. She later died in a Singapore hospital.
In 2013, Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 or the Anti-Rape Bill, which was later called the Nirbhaya Act, came into existence. The new law mandated death penalty under Section 376A of the Indian Penal Code.
Under Section 376A, whoever commits a rape, which leads to the death of the victim or causes her to be in a “persistent vegetative state,” shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a minimum term of 20 years which may extend to life or with death.
The three judge Bench, led by Justice Dipak Misra, wrapped up the marathon hearings on their appeals on March 27. The appeals were heard for almost a year on a day-to-day basis.
The arguments ended with senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Delhi Police, strongly pushing for death penalty for the convicts as a proportionate punishment for their “brutal crime.”
Amicus curiae and senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, however, opposed it, asking the court to consider sentencing the convicts to life imprisonment.
Incidentally, the Bench had prima facie agreed with the contention of the amicus that Section 235 of the Code of Criminal Procedure — which provides that a trial court should individually hear a convict before sentencing him — was not followed in this case.
The brutal crime against the 23-year-old victim provoked a national outrage and demand for a more stringent law to deal with sexual crimes against women.