Sunday, 23 September, 2018

India’s supreme court upholds death penalty for 2012 Delhi gang-rape convicts

Indian defence lawyer AP Singh representing men accused of gang raping and murdering a woman in 2012 talks to the media outside India's Supreme Court building in New Delhi India’s Supreme Court reaffirms death penalty for ‘diabolical’ assailants in 2012 fatal gang rape
Faye Gross | 10 July, 2018, 02:27

The Supreme Court on Monday will pronounce its judgment on the review petition filed by two out of four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case.

The court said that it saw no grounds to review the death sentences confirmed on appeal previous year, the last barrier to the men's execution.

A three-member bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan dismissed a petition filed by three of the four convicts to review the apex court's May 2017 order confirming the death penalty given by the Delhi High Court in 2014. Akshay Kumar Singh, the fourth convict, had not filed a review plea. A juvenile in conflict with the law was tried by a special court and has already served three years in a reform home.

Men convicted of the 2012 Delhi bus attack (from left) Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh have had their death sentences upheld.

The convicted assailants have not yet exhausted all legal options - they can still seek a curative petition from the court for example - so the process may drag out for years. His lawyer had claimed that his client was being framed.

On Dec 16, 2012, six men including a 17-year-old juvenile gang-raped a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern in a moving bus in Delhi. She succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital, triggering huge protests across the country.

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Only three of them were involved in the appeal rejected Monday.

Earlier this year the victim's mother Asha Devi told the media, "It has been six years since the incident and similar incidents are taking place every day". She came to be known as "Nirbhaya", meaning "fearless".

"The review petition of all the three convicts has been rejected", A. P. Singh, a lawyer for the defendants, told reporters.

The brutal attack prompted widespread protests throughout the country, sparked a new debate about women's safety in India and resulted in strict changes to the country's rape laws which now allows for the death penalty in some rape cases.

One of the accused in the case, Ram Singh, has died already, after allegedly committing suicide in the Tihar Jail in the national capital.

But activists say this is just the tip of the iceberg as many victims are afraid to report the crimes due to threats by perpetrators or the social stigma attached to sexual assaults. On July 9, 2018 SC will decide the fate of the four accused of death sentence in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case. The Court had reserved its judgement in the matter on May 4 this year after hearing the arguments on behalf of the convicts.

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