(This story was first published on 24 July 2016. It has been republished from The Quint’s archives to mark the fifth anniversary of the Nirbhaya case. Five years on, we are still a long way from creating a safe space for women. A set of recent incidents involving gruesome rapes of women across the country has yet again raised several questions about the Indian society and the judiciary.)
- Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh were given the death sentence in the Nirbhaya case
- The Supreme Court upheld the death sentence awarded by the Delhi High Court in March 2014
- The SC bench called the gangrape and murder a “devilish” and “barbaric” act
- Nirbhaya’s father hailed the verdict as a “victory” for his family
The Supreme Court, on 5 May, upheld the earlier Delhi High Court order awarding death penalty to all the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.
“It is a barbaric incident,” the court said, as an SC bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan threw out the convicts’ appeals against the death penalty.
Supreme Court orderTaking the serious injuries, the severe nature of offence committee by the convicts, we are upholding the sentence.
"It's a barbaric crime and it has shaken the society's conscience," Justice R Banumathi told the court, stressing on the need to educate children to respect women.
The apex court said the aggravating circumstances outweighed the mitigating circumstances, like the poor family background, young age of accused, good conduct in prison, marital status, small kids, etc.
Justice Misra, who read the operative portion of the judgement, said the offence created a "tsunami of shock".
The bench also said the nature and the manner of the crime had devastated social trust and it fell in the ‘rarest of the rare’ category, warranting the death penalty.
It said the victim’s dying declaration was consistent, which was proved beyond doubt and corroborated, even though the victim had made her dying declaration through gestures as she was in a very serious state.
The court also said that the testimony of the victim's friend who was with her in the bus and the first prosecution witness, was impeccable and relied upon.
Options Left for Convicts
The convicted men can now file for a review petition challenging the judgment. If the review petition is cancelled, they can file for a curative review.
Finally, they can file for the President’s pardon, under article 72 of the Constitution.
AP Singh, counsel for two of the four convicts, said he will file a review petition against the judgement, alleging that the top court had succumbed to public pressure and the protests staged against the incident,
Moments after the judgement was pronounced, Singh, who appeared for Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma, said he was waiting for a copy of the judgement and will decide a further course of action after reading the entire judgement but a review petition would surely be moved.
ML Sharma, counsel for the two other convicts, too spoke of filing a review petition, claiming that one of his clients, Mukesh Singh, had been implicated in the case.
‘Justice Not Done’: Convicts’ Lawyer
Responding to the verdict, AP Singh, lawyer of the convicts said that jutice has not been served.
AP Singh, Convicts’ Lawyer Samaaj mein message dene ke liye kisi ko phansi nahi de sakte, human rights ki dhajiyaan udd gayi. (You cannot hang people to give a message to society, this is a violation of human rights) Justice not done, we will file review petition after reading the order.
‘A Victory For My Family’: Nirbhaya’s Father
Nirbhaya’s parents started clapping as soon as the judgement was announced. According to reports, such an emotional reaction is unprecedented in the apex court.
Nirbhaya’s Father It’s a victory for my family, I am very happy with the judgement.
Speaking to the media on Friday morning, Nirbhaya’s parents expressed confidence that the SC would deliver justice.
The four men convicted in the case, Mukesh Singh, 24, Pawan Gupta, 20, Vinay Sharma, 22, and Akshay Thakur, 29, were awarded death sentence by Delhi High Court in March 2014.
Nirbhaya's mother Asha Devi thanks everyone, says justice has been delivered to people.
‘Happy With the Death Sentence’: Maneka Gandhi
Commenting on the verdict, Union minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi said the case affected the way rape is viewed in the country.
I am happy that the Supreme Court has reconfirmed the death sentence, it was a truly heinous crime. The terrible suffering of Nirbhaya resulted in tightening of rape laws. After Nirbhaya, India media has developed zero tolerance for molestation and rape.
'Delhi Police's Investigation Stands Vindicated'
Speaking about the SC order, Delhi police spokesperson Deependra Pathak said that it was an important verdict and the police’s investigation stood vindicated.
Jyoti Singh, dubbed Nirbhaya, was raped and killed by five men and a juvenile in the national capital in December 2012. The 23-year-old was gangraped and dumped by the roadside. She later succumbed to her injuries. The fifth convict hanged himself, while the juvenile convict, who was awarded three years in a reformation home, was released in December 2015.
. Read more on News by The Quint.2012 Delhi Gangrape: Death Penalty For 4 Convicts in Nirbhaya CaseWhere’s the Juvenile in Nirbhaya Case? A Cook at a Dhaba & Unaware . Read more on News by The Quint.