The Supreme Court of India, on Monday, upheld the death sentence of three out of four rapists involved in 2012 Delhi gang-rape case. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan dismissed pleas filed by Mukesh (29), Pawan Gupta (22) and Vinay Sharma (23) to review their death sentences announced by the Apex Court on May 5, 2017. Akshay Kumar Singh (31), the fourth accused, had refrained from filing a review petition.
"We knew that review petition will be dismissed. But what next? So much time has gone by & threat to women have gone up in this span. I believe sooner they're hanged, better it is," Badrinath Singh, father of Nirbhaya, told ANI.
The Supreme Court emphasised that there was no ground to reconsider their death sentence. The convicts can now file a curative petition, urging the Supreme Court to reconsider the capital punishment. Or, they can file a mercy plea to the President of India.
In December 2012, at a South Delhi neighbourhood, a 23-year-old student who was returning home with a male friend, was brutally gang-raped. Reportedly, apart from viciously torturing her, the rapists made use of an iron rod which caused severe injury in her internal organs. She was transferred to Singapore for advanced treatment but succumbed to her injuries after a battle of 11 days.
This evoked burning rage all across the country and a mass protest like nothing the country witnessed in recent times. The accused were arrested within 24 hours of the incident, but severe agitations created immense pressure on the police and administration to prosecute the criminals. Ram Singh, a bus driver, his brother, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, a gym instructor, Pawan Gupta, a fruit seller, Akshay Thakur, an outsider who was seeking a job in Delhi and a 17-year-old juvenile from UP were taken in police custody.
The juvenile, then aged 17 years and six months, was treated as a minor by the law and was given an imprisonment of three years. On 3 January 2013, the police charged five adult men for kidnapping, rape and murder.
On 13 March 2014, the Delhi High Court confirmed death sentence for the four convicts. A few days prior to that, Ram Singh, who was kept in Bihar's Tihar jail, committed suicide. In June 2014, the convicts made an appeal to the Supreme Court and their executions were stayed.
On 5 May 2017, the Supreme Court rejected the plea of reconsideration filed the convicts but they still had a chance to re-appeal.
Meanwhile, the mass protest resulted in then-President Pranab Mukherjee promulgating the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, allowing amendment of Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Six Fast track courts were set up to make the judicial process faster for cases with high priority. On 1 January 2013, a task force led by the Union Home Secretary was established to take care of women's safety in Delhi and also supervise police functioning.