A division bench of the Delhi High Court on Tuesday decided to commence daily hearings on the death sentence awarded to the four convicts in the December 16 gang rape case.
Earlier in the day, the convicts - Mukesh Singh, 26, Akshay Thakur, 28, Pawan Gupta, 19 and Vinay Sharma, 20 - had arrived in court with a hostile crowd of onlookers, litigants and lawyers heckling, hurling abuses and trying to spit on the four men.
The four were taken to the court for the confirmation of their sentence in response to a production order issued in their respective names on Monday.
The proceedings are in accordance with provisions in the law requiring trial courts to refer each death penalty judgement to the high court for confirmation of punishment.
The division bench of Justice Reva Khetrapal and Justice Pratibha Rani said arguments regarding the said case would begin, and be conducted on a day-to-day basis, from Wednesday. The bench rejected the arguments of the defence that sought a week’s adjournment as they had to “file an appeal yet”.
“We can start hearing the death sentence reference and in the meanwhile you (defence counsels) file an appeal,” the bench said. “We don’t know why you don’t want to open the case. Let us start from hearing the background of the case and the state will start the case. Then from next week, you can start,” the bench added.
The bench contended that its decision was ‘in the interest of the convicts’. “It will be in your interest if the appeal comes early, otherwise the sword will be hanging on their (the convicts’) heads. Since this matter was being heard on a day-to-day basis in the fast track court, we should hear it fast.”
Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna, who presided over a fast-track court at Saket which finished the trial in seven months, had awarded the death penalty to the four for their ‘hair-rising beastly and unparalleled behaviour’ which qualified the case as the ‘rarest of rare’.