The Supreme Court on Friday confirmed the death sentence awarded by the Delhi High Court to the four convicts in the December 16 gangrape case. The bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan heard the plea by the four convicts – Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur.
The top court said the act ‘demonstrates perversion of the accused’ and added that if any case warrants a death sentence, it’s this one. The court added that criminal conspiracy allegations against the convicts stand established.
The mother of the victim had earlier expressed confidence that the top court will uphold the High Court order. Speaking to news agency ANI, she said, “We have full faith in the judicial system and I am sure that the Supreme Court will announce death sentence in its verdict for the guilty. I am sure the Supreme Court will give justice to my daughter. This will set an example for the world.” The victim’s father added, “Leave Supreme Court, even God will not forgive such people.”
Six men, including the four convicts, were found guilty of brutally raping a 23-year old physiotherapist inside a bus on December 16, 2012. The victim succumbed to injuries 13 days later in a hospital in Singapore. One of the primary suspects, Ram Singh, was found hanging inside a prison cell in Tihar jail in March 2013, while another suspect, a juvenile at the time of the crime, was given a sentence of 3 years inside a juvenile home.
The remaining four convicts were awarded death sentence by the trial court, whose decision was upheld by Delhi High Court on March 13, 2014. The High Court agreed with the trial court that the crime of the convicts fell into “rarest of rare” cases. The convicts had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the HC verdict. Advocates A P Singh and M L Sharma, who were representatives of the convicts, asked the court to show leniency as the four accused come from a poor family background and are young in age.
The advocates also questioned the evidence collected by the police in the matter and said the convicts should be given a chance to reform considering the mitigating circumstances of each convict. Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and Raju Ramachandran, who assisted the court as amicus curiae, had told the bench that the option of awarding jail term for the whole life may be considered. Hegde said that the crime committed was of “immense proportion” but as the evidence was not concrete against the culprits, it does not warrant a death penalty.
In February, the apex court bench had prima facie agreed with Ramachandran’s contention that the provision of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), relating to sentencing of convicts, has not been followed in letter and spirit by the trial court. The bench said that as per section 235 of the CrPC an accused, in the event of conviction, would be heard by on the question of sentencing individually before the trial judge passes the order awarding punishment.