The verdict in the December 16 gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman will be pronounced on September 10. The trial has ended in the case that shocked and outraged the country in equal measures, forcing the government to bring in a more stringent rape law.
The four accused can be
sentenced to death, if found guilty. Their underage accomplice, who has since turned 18, has been sent to a reform home for three years after a juvenile board handed down a guilty verdict on August 31. The sixth accused in the case was found hanging in his Tihar jail cell in March.
“The arguments have ended now. I will be giving the judgment on September 10,” additional sessions judge Yogesh Khanna said on Tuesday after the prosecution and the defence lawyers concluded their submissions.
Ram Singh, Vinay, Akshay, Pawan, Mukesh and the juvenile raped the 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist and then shoved an iron rod in her body in a moving bus after assaulting her male friend, the prosecution said. After brutalising the woman, the men threw the couple out of the bus. The woman succumbed to her injuries on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.
The trial began on February 2, with the court charging the five accused with 13 offences including gang rape, murder, kidnapping, unnatural offences, attempt to murder, dacoity, destruction of evidence and conspiracy. Proceedings against Ram Singh ceased after his death on March 11.
The woman’s friend was among the 83 prosecution witnesses, all of who stood by their statements in the court.
Her mother, case’s investigating officer, the magistrate who recorded the dying declaration, some policemen, doctors who attended to her at the Safdarjung hospital, where she battled for life for 10 days, and DNA experts also testified.
The doctor who conducted the post mortem at Singapore’s Mt Elizabeth hospital testified through video conferencing. The doctor told the court that the injuries suffered by the woman could cause death.
The verdict will be closely watched as the country has seen a rise in crime against women, which among many reasons is blamed on a clogged and slow-moving judicial system. The case, however, led to rape cases being tried in fast-track courts.
Winding up his arguments, special public prosecutor Dayan Krishnan said he had placed sufficient evidence to prove the guilt of each of the accused. Defence though said none of the accused was on the bus and they were being framed.