A special court is likely to pronounce its verdict in the December 16 gang-rape and murder case that shook the collective conscience of the country and sparked outrage that forced the government to bring a stringent law and set up special courts.
The verdict is being closely watched as the country has seen a rise in crime against women, which, among other things is blamed on a clogged and slow-moving judicial system.
The four accused — Vinay, Akshay, Pawan and Mukesh — can be sentenced to death, if found guilty. Their under-aged 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, Ram Singh was found hanging in his Tihar jail cell in March.
The parents of the victim have already demanded death sentence for all the accused. They were crestfallen after the juvenile was given a mild punishment.
“Nothing short of a death sentence for all the accused will satisfy us. Only that can bring peace to our minds and to the whole country,” the victim’s father told HT.
The accused had raped the 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist and then shoved an iron rod into 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 at a Singapore hospital.
Winding up his arguments on the day on September 3, the day court reserved its judgment, special public prosecutor Dayan Krishnan said he had placed sufficient evidence to nail each accused. Defence though said none of the accused was on the bus and they were being framed.
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 , considered to be the prime accused, ceased after his death on March 11.
The woman’s friend was among the 84 prosecution witnesses, all of whom stood by their statements in the court.
Her mother, the investigating officer, the magistrate who recorded the dying declaration, some policemen, doctors who treated her at the Safdarjung hospital, where she battled for life for 10 days, and DNA experts also testified during the trial.