The Supreme Court on Monday started hearing the appeals filed by the four convicts in the December 16 gang rape and murder case against the Delhi high court order sentencing them to death.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra began hearing the appeals of the convicts who said the high court erred in holding them guilty. The HC had upheld a trial court order.
The HC confirmed the sentence of Mukesh Singh, 27, Akshay Thakur, 29, Pawan Gupta, 20, and Vinay Sharma, 21, saying their crime was in the rarest-of-the rare category warranting death penalty.
Six persons, including a juvenile, had raped a 23-year-old paramedic in a moving bus in South Delhi on December 16, 2012. The accused later threw out the victim and her male friend at an isolated spot.
The woman died in a Singapore hospital on December 29.
The counsel for Mukesh and Pawan defended his clients. He questioned the victim’s testimony and said she could not have recorded her statement before the magistrate if she was critically injured. The advocate cited the Singapore hospital autopsy report to argue the victim’s private parts were never injured.
According to the prosecution, an iron rod was inserted into the victim’s private parts.
Appearing for the Delhi government, senior advocate Siddharth Luthra countered the statement. The bench, after perusing the Singapore hospital report, rejected the defence counsel’s contention. It told him to first prove the witnesses in the case wrong.
“There was an eye witness (PW1) in the case. Both the trial court and the high court have given credence to the testimony of PW1, so you have to first shatter that,” the bench said.
The hearing remained inconclusive and will continue on April 8.
The prime accused, Ram Singh, 35, was found dead in Tihar jail in March 2014. Another accused, a juvenile, was sentenced to a maximum of three years in a reformation home.
Within a month of the brutal incident, a fast-track court began the trial proceedings on January 17, 2013. It took just eight months to deliver death sentences to all the accused.
The Delhi high court fast-tracked the convicts’ appeal and within six months, it confirmed capital punishment to the convicts. But the case has been hanging fire since then.
The SC began hearing the appeals 21 months after they were filed. The death sentence was put on hold the day the SC heard the appeals.