Exactly four years, four months and 18 days after a brutal gang-rape and murder on the streets of the Capital shook the nation’s conscience, the Supreme Court upheld the death penalty awarded to the four convicts in the December 16, 2012, incident.
The case, in the aftermath of which millions of young Indians thronged Delhi’s streets reclaiming a safe city for the women, forced the government to make strict and punitive laws against women harassment and brought the issue of women’s safety to the centre stage.
The counsel for the accused, however, said that they will appeal against the verdict.
The Supreme Court on Friday ordered that all four convicts in the gang-rape and murder case of a 23-year-old paramedic student be sent to the gallows.
While pronouncing the verdict the court observed that the incident “is a tsunami of shock in the minds of the collective destroyed humanity”.
“If ever a case called for hanging, this was it,” the Supreme Court said.
“The devilish manner in which the accused played with the victim is diabolical,” the court said.
Reacting to the verdict, the mother of the 23-year-old paramedic student said, “We have got justice, we were living for this day.”
The convicts had been awarded death by a fast-track court on September 13, 2013, which was later upheld by the Delhi high court.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times on Thursday, the victim’s mother had demanded that her daughter’s rapists and killers be hanged to death. ““The court must sentence them to death. We won’t settle for life imprisonment. I am alive and kept myself strong only to see this day,” the mother told HT over the phone.
“All these years, I have asked myself what if she had not taken that bus… There are a lot of what ifs,” said the mother, who has become the face of the struggle of the lower middle-class family that weaved its hopes of a better life around the young woman and her brother.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi said justice has been delivered in the “heartbreaking case that agonised the soul of India.”
“I feel deeply for the courageous family of this brave daughter of India, who rose to become a symbol of every woman’s fight against sexual violence. The court’s judgement is a reminder to each of us to work tirelessly toward building a safe & secure environment for women,” Gandhi said in a statement
“ To lead a life of dignity, pride, respect and equality is the right of every daughter of India and it is for all of us to ensure that she gets it,” she said.
The execution was stayed after the four convicts — Mukesh Singh (27), Pawan Gupta (20), Vinay Sharma (21) and Akshay Thakur (29) — moved the top court. The fifth accused, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide while in jail.
The Delhi HC upheld the death sentences awarded to the four convicts on March 13, 2014. However, on March 16, the apex court stayed the death sentence awarded to Mukesh and Pawan. Later, it stayed the hanging of the Vinay and Akshay too.
The sixth accused, who was a minor at the time of crime, was granted three years in a correction facility by Juvenile Justice Board. He was released from the home in November 2015.
The Supreme Court had on March 27, 2017, reserved its verdict after almost a year of hearings in the case and posted the matter for May 5.
The 2012 incident led to large-scale protests across the country, forcing the then government to make strict and punitive laws related to the harassment of women.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern was returning home after watching a film with her friend on December 16, 2012, when she was raped by six men and thrown off the bus. The woman’s friend was also beaten up with iron rods.
The girl, who suffered fatal injuries, was admitted to the Safdarjung Hospital. She was shifted to a hospital in Singapore after her condition deteriorated even as thousands of youngsters protested on the streets of Delhi demanding justice for her. She finally succumbed to her injuries on December 29, 2012.