The Delhi High Court on Thursday upheld the death sentence awarded to the four convicts in the brutal gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on December 16, 2012, which triggered countrywide outrage.
A bench of justices Reva Khetrapal and Pratibha Rani confirmed the sentence of Mukesh Singh, 26, Akshay Thakur, 28, Pawan Gupta, 19, and Vinay Sharma, 20, saying their crime falls in the rarest-of-the rare category, which warrants death penalty.
"Death reference is accepted. Death sentence awarded by the trial court is affirmed. The appeals of the convicts are dismissed," the bench said.
Full coverage: how the dreadful night unfolded
The parents of the victim were also present in the court at the time of pronouncement of the verdict.
"We have got full faith in the judiciary. We had expected this verdict. But the ultimate satisfaction will be when the convicts meet to their ultimate fate," the mother of the 23-year-old paramedic told the media outside court room after the verdict was delivered.
The trial court had on September 13, last year awarded capital punishment to the four, saying they be "hanged till death" as the "beastly" and "hair-raising" manner in which the crime was committed against the girl fell in the rarest-of-the-rare category.
Following countrywide protests, the government had brought in stringent legislation that broadened the definition of what constituted sexual assault against women.
Full coverage of the Delhi gang-rape verdict
After the verdict, the lower court later sent the case to the high court for confirmation of the death sentence. It also granted 30 days time to the convicts to file their appeal before the high court.
The prime accused, Ram Singh, 34, had been found dead in the cell in Tihar Jail in March last year and proceedings against him were abated. On August 31, another accused, a juvenile, was convicted and sentenced to a maximum of three years in a reformation home.
On the night of December 16, 2012, the paramedic student was gang-raped in a moving bus in south Delhi after the convicts lured her and her 28-year-old male friend, who was also assaulted, on board the vehicle.
The victim's friend, a software engineer, suffered fractures in his limbs. The girl succumbed to her injuries on December 29, 2012 in a hospital in Singapore.
In most of the rape cases, trial takes years to complete. But the 16/12 gang rape case proved to be an exception as the trial was completed in less than nine months.
(With PTI inputs)
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