India: Supreme Court grants death sentence to 2012 Delhi gang rape case convicts

Nirbhaya died in a Singapore hospital after 13 days of the rape, leaving millions in shock.

India: Supreme Court grants death sentence to 2012 Delhi gang rape case convicts
Women carry a floral tribute at an event to mark the anniversary of the brutal gang rape of a student on a bus in Delhi, outside the Indian High Commission in central London, December 16, 2013. Reuters

The Supreme Court of India upheld the earlier court order of death sentence to the four convicts of 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder case. The top court ruling on convicts' plea was set to decide whether the four perpetrators arrested for the crime would be sentenced to death, or given mercy.

The convicts, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharmaand Pawan Gupta, were held guilty of raping and torturing a 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus. A trial court in 2013 had ruled that all the convicts should be hanged to death and the high court had upheld the sentence.

However, the four perpetrators challenged the court's decision in the apex court and appealed before the Supreme Court against the ruling of their death sentences.

"The Nirbhaya rape-cum-murder case is rarest of rare case and we are compelled to give extreme punishment to ensure justice," the Supreme Court said, while sentencing the order. Soon after the judgement, the packed court began to applaud in the presence of the parents of the woman who came to be known as "Nirbhaya" or fearless.

"The brutal, barbaric, and demonaical conduct of the convicts shook the conscience of humanity and they don't deserve leniency+," the apex court added. The court used words such as "gruesome", "gross", "sadistic" and "beastly" in the 429-page order.

"It's a victory for my family, I am very happy with the judgement," Nirbhaya's father told ANI.

AP Singh, Lawyer of the convicts said: "You can't hang someone just to send a message to society. Human rights have been slaughtered today. Justice not done, we will file review petition after reading the order."

On December 16 2012, the physiotherapy student and her friend climbed onto a bus in south Delhi, assured by the driver that they would be dropped off at their destination. The woman was gang-raped by six men for hours, brutalised with an iron rod and her intestines were pulled out. She died in a Singapore hospital 13 days later, leaving millions in shock.

The crime was so heinous that several protests broke out in the country, with many marching in Delhi and clashing with the police. All of them demanded justice for Nirbhaya and safety for women in the country.

Out of the six convicts, Ram Singh, the driver of the bus, was found hanging in his cell in Tihar jail in March 2013, a few months before they were convicted. Reports state that another convict, Vinay Sharma, also reportedly attempted to commit suicide last August.

The sixth convict in the case, who was just months short of turning 18 years of age, walked out of a correction home in December 2015 after spending three years.