New Delhi– Calling it a “rarest of rare” case, the Supreme Court on Friday upheld the death sentence on all four convicts in the brutal Nirbhaya gang-rape here of 2012 that led to her death and caused nationwide outrage.
“If ever a case called for hanging, this was it,” said a bench of Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice R. Banumathi. The ruling was applauded in the courtroom.
The judges said that the aggravating circumstances against Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur far outweighed the mitigating circumstances cited in their favour.
The four were convicted for raping and assaulting the 23-year-old paramedical student inside a moving bus on December 16, 2012 which led to her death 13 days later in a Singapore hospital.
The rapists, six in all, pounced on the young woman who had boarded the bus with her boyfriend to go home after seeing a movie.
After committing the crime, they dumped both on the side of a road. Some onlookers alerted the police. The sheer brutality of the crime led to nationwide revulsion — and street protests.
A fifth accused, Ram Singh, committed suicide in the Tihar Central Jail here. The sixth, a juvenile, has been released after serving his probation period in a remand home.
Taking note of the serious injuries and the severe nature of the offence, the judges said they were upholding the death sentence first pronounced by a lower court and upheld by the Delhi High Court.
The crime shocked the nation’s conscience, the Supreme Court judges said.
There were tears in Nirbhaya’s mother’s eyes when she heard the judges upholding the death sentence.
“I am happy the Supreme Court has heard our voice and understood the suffering Nirbhaya underwent,” the grieving father said, referring to his daughter by the name given by the media.
“It has given justice to Nirbhaya and the entire country.”
The convict’s lawyer, A.P. Singh, pledged to file a review petition.
“I am not satisfied with the judgement,” he told the media. “It is a violation of human rights. Someone cannot be hanged just because of public sentiments.”
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said she was happy. “It was a horrible experience and suffering for the family.”
The Delhi Commission for Women welcomed the capital punishment. “Finally, justice was delayed but not denied,” said its chief, Swati Maliwal.