Four convicts in the December 16 gangrape-cum-murder case were today awarded death penalty by a Delhi court which said the gravity of the offence cannot be tolerated.
“Death to all,” Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna said while delivering the verdict in the case that had evoked nationwide outrage and led the Government to bring in a stringent anti-rape law.
“Besides discussing others offences, I straightaway come to Section 302 (murder) of the IPC. This falls under the inhuman nature of the convicts and the gravity of offence they committed cannot be tolerated. Death sentence is given to all the four convicts,” he said.
The offence committed by Mukesh (26), Akshay Thakur (28), Pawan Gupta (19) and Vinay Sharma (20) falls under the rarest of rare category warranting capital punishment, the judge said.
The four were convicted by the court on September 10 for the gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedic student.
Court cannot turn a blind eye to such a gruesome act,” the judge said, while handing down the maximum punishment.
He said, "When crime against women is rising on a day-to-day basis, so, at this point in time the court cannot keep its eye shut."
"There should be exemplary punishment in view of the unparallelled brutality with which the victim was gangraped and murdered, as the case falls under the rarest of rare category. All be given death," the court said while reading out a portion of the order.
"This is a time when serious crime against a woman has come to the fore and now its the judiciary’s responsibility to instill confidence among the women," it said.
Besides murder, the four have been also convicted for offences including gangrape, unnatural offences, attempt to murder, dacoity, destruction of evidence, conspiracy, kidnapping or abducting in order to murder, while acquitting them of the charge of murder in dacoity.
Immediately after pronouncement of sentence, the victim’s mother expressed satisfaction over the verdict.
"Halak mein saans atki thi, jo ab bahar nikli hai. Mein dhanywaad karti hu desh ke logon ka aur media ka" (We were waiting with bated breath, now we are relieved. I thank the people of my country and the media)," she said.
Besides her, the victim’s father and two brothers were also present in the jam-packed court room when the sentence was pronounced.
Hearing that he will face the gallows, Vinay started crying in court, while the other three convicts — Mukesh, Pawan, Akshay — started shouting for pardon, with one of the defence lawyers A. P. Singh also joining them in seeking mercy.
Advocate V. K. Anand, who appeared for Mukesh, said he has regard for the verdict and he will file an appeal in the Delhi High Court.
Special public prosecutor Dayan Krishnan said, "I have done my job and we (prosecution) are happy with the verdict."
Soon after the verdict was delivered, people waiting outside the courtroom started clapping.
The girl’s mother said that no such victim should remain silent and must come forward to lodge a complaint.
Defence counsel A. P. Singh said he would move the High Court only "if no other rape takes place in next two months after this verdict".
"If the country wanted this case to be a deterrent, I will wait for two months to see the crime scene. If no rape takes place due to death being given in the instant case, I will give in writing that my clients be hanged," he said.
Vinay, who started crying and screaming after the order, sat down in the courtroom when the police personnel came to take him back to jail.
Post-lunch work at the Saket Court had come to a standstill with court staff members and litigants eagerly waiting for the pronouncement of the quantum of sentence.
The corridors of the six-storeyed court building was crowded with people.
Groups of people had assembled outside the court complex to know about the verdict and as soon as the order was delivered, they started raising slogans that the juvenile convicted in the case by the Juvenile Justice Board, should also be hanged.
"Juvenile ko bhi phansi do (Give death penalty to juvenile also)," was the slogan raised by people outside the court complex.
The juvenile accused was on August 31 convicted and sentenced to a maximum of three years in a reformation home.
On the night of December 16, last year, Ram Singh, Vinay, Akshay, Pawan, Mukesh and the juvenile had gangraped the girl in a bus after luring her and her 28-year-old male friend, who was also assaulted, on board the vehicle, which was later found to be plying illegally on Delhi roads.
The victim’s friend, a software engineer, suffered fractures in his limbs. The girl succumbed to her injuries on December 29, 2012 at a Singapore hospital.
Ram Singh (34) was found dead in his prison cell in March and proceedings against him were abated.
The incident shook the nation’s conscience and sparked massive protests. It prompted a number of steps by the Centre and the Delhi Government to ensure safety of women, curb such incidents and facilitate quick disposal of cases.