New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the death sentence to the four convicted in the fatal December 16, 2012 gangrape of Delhi’s Nirbhaya.
The 23-year-old paramedic was brutally assaulted and raped by six persons in a moving bus in south Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle with her male friend on the night of December 16, 2012.
One of the six, prime accused Ram Singh, committed suicide in Tihar Jail in 2015. Another accused, a juvenile at the time of the crime, walked free later that year.
The apex court on Friday confirmed findings of the trial court and Delhi High Court against the four convicts in the case.
Justice Dipak Misra observed in his order that this was a story of 'some different world'.
“It’s a barbaric incident. Taking note of the serious injuries and the severe nature of the offence committed by the convicts, we are upholding the sentence,” said the order.
The top court said the nature and manner of the crime devastated social trust and fell in the 'rarest of rare' categories, warranting death penalty.
“The victim's dying declaration is consistent; it has been proved beyond doubt and corroborated. “Aggravating circumstances outweigh mitigating circumstances in the case; this offence created a tsunami of shock," the top court observed in its ruling.
“The testimony of the victim's friend, who was with her in the bus, and that of the first prosecution witness is impeccable and relied upon,” the apex court said.
“If this case isn't rarest of rare to award death penalty, then which case can fall under it?” Justice R Banumathi asked while passing the order.
The Supreme Court also said the convicts' background, age, absence of criminal record and good behaviour in prison could not outweigh the aggravating circumstances.
While ruling in favour of death, Justice R Banumathi said there should be systematic education of children to ensure they respect women. Justice Banumathi quoted Swami Vivekananda on how tradition should enrich society with knowledge and understanding to ensure justice for women.
The apex court further stated it had been established that the 6 men formed a criminal conspiracy, and every effort was made to destroy evidence, like running the bus over the victim and her friend.
Nirbhaya's mother had tears in her eyes while the verdict was read out, and the entire courtroom clapped when the judges finished.
The medical student was not only raped and beaten, but was also ‘violated with a metal rod.’ “It appears to be that a rod was inserted into her and it was pulled out with so much force that the act brought out her intestines... That is probably the only thing that explains such severe damage to her intestines,” a doctor from Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital where the woman was undergoing treatment had told the media.
AP Singh, lawyer for one of the convicts, said that justice had not been done and that he would file a review petition after reading the order. “The convict can’t be hanged for sending a message to the society; the order violates basic human rights,” Singh asserted.
The Delhi High Court, in its verdict on March 13, 2014, had observed that their offence fell in the rarest of the rare category and had upheld the death sentence awarded to them by the trial court.
The trial court had also awarded death penalty to the four convicts. Prime accused Ram Singh allegedly committed suicide in his cell in Tihar jail in March 2013 and proceedings against him were abated.
The woman had undergone multiple surgeries, where portions of her intestine, which had turned gangrenous, were removed. Doctors had said that only five percent of her intestine had been left inside her when she arrived at the medical facility. She had died in a Singapore hospital on December 29 that year.
The four convicts -- Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh -- had approached the Supreme Court against the high court's order which had confirmed the death penalty awarded to them by the trial court.
During the hearing, advocates AP Singh and ML Sharma, representing the four convicts, had said they should be given a chance to reform and considering the mitigating factors, the court should not award them death penalty. They also raised questions about the evidence collected by the police in the matter.
Commenting on the verdict, Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi said, “A judgement like this was necessary to send a stern message to people who commit such heinous crimes”.
Nirbhaya's father Badri Singh Pandey expressed happiness at the verdict, calling it a victory for his family.
Lawyer AP Singh however, claimed that 'Gandhian principles have been ruined' and that he would file a review petition....