The counsel for December 16 gang rape convicts invoked Mahatma Gandhi to appeal for leniency from the judge in the face of a fervent appeal by the prosecution that demanded nothing short of a death sentence for the convicts.
Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta were on Tuesday convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus in December last year, a crime that sparked country-wide outrage.
The lawyers for the convicts on Wednesday — the date set by the judge for sentencing, which has been deferred till Friday — pleaded before the court to give them a last chance to reform.
But special public prosecutor Dayan Krishnan urged Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna to reject the plea, saying going by the “most brutal and outrageous” nature of the crime, “none of them stand any chance to reform”.
The lawyers for the convicts, VK Anand, AP Singh, and Vivek Sharma, urged the court to consider that the convicts were young and had done the crime on the spur of the moment. They also brought to the judge’s consideration the fact that the convicts had no criminal history and urged him “not go by the public opinion and media pressure” while sentencing them.
“Emotions or public sentiments should not come in the way of judicial pronouncements,” said Anand, the lawyer for convict Mukesh. Singh, the lawyer for Akshay and Vinay said death sentence was nothing but “cold-blooded murder in the name of justice”.
“Execution kills only the criminal and not the crime. What deterrence are we talking about? Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassin Beant Singh was given death sentence but her son Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a similar fashion,” he said.
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, Singh said, “God has given life to all and only he has the right to take one’s life” and not the man-made court.
“We will tell the society that this degree of deviance will not be tolerated. The sentence that is appropriate is nothing short of death. If death is not given, the society will lose faith in the judicial system,” Krishnan said.