The Supreme Court on Friday confirmed the death sentence awarded to the four convicts in the December 16, 2012 sensational gangrape and murder case, saying it had sent a “tsunami of shock” all over and was a ‘rarest of rare’ case in which the most brutal, barbaric and diabolical attack was carried out on the 23-year-old woman.
The apex court said the convicts had treated the victim as an object of enjoyment, with the single purpose of ravishing her.
A three-judge bench, through a unanimous verdict, upheld the Delhi High Court judgement, which had concurred with the trial court decision.
Those who will face the gallows are Mukesh (29), Pawan (22), Vinay Sharma (23) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31).
One of the accused, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail, while a convicted juvenile was sentenced three years of punishment in a reform home.
In its judgement, the bench noted every gory detail which the victim suffered at their hands, like after she was gangraped, the convicts had inserted an iron rod in her private parts, threw her from the bus along with her friend and tried to run them over.
The court termed the incident as “most brutal, barbaric and diabolical attack” on the victim.
The judgement was prononuced by a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan which had reserved the verdict on March 27 after a marathon hearing.
Justice Misra wrote the judgement for himself and Justice Bhushan, while Justice Banumathi wrote a separate but concurring verdict.
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 rare’ category, warranting 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 bad state of affair.
The bench further said the scientific evidence like DNA profiling of the victim and the accused proved to the hilt about their presence at the crime spot.
It said the criminal conspiracy of four convicts, Ram Singh and juvenile has been established, even after efforts were made to destroy evidence like running the bus over the victim and her friend after they were thrown out of it.
The court also said that the testimony of the victim’s friend who was with her in bus and the first prosecution witness, was impeccable and relied upon.
The bench said the convicts treated the victim as an object of enjoyment, with the single purpose of ravishing her.
In her separate order, Justice Banumathi asked if this case wasn’t the ‘rarest of rare’ to award death penalty, then which case can fall under it.
She said the convicts’ background, age, no criminal record, good behaviour in prison cannot outweigh aggravating circumstances.
The court passed the verdict while deciding the appeals of the four convicts in the case that had shaken the entire nation’s conscience.
The convicts had challenged the conviction and death penalty awarded to them by the high court on March 13, 2014.
The 23-year-old paramedic student was brutally assaulted and raped by six persons in a moving bus in south Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle with her male friend on the night of December 16, 2012. She had died in a Singapore hospital on December 29 that year.
Besides dealing with the challenge to the conviction, the apex court was also deliberating on the issue of quantum of sentence to the convicts as it has been alleged that the trial court did not separately consider “mitigating” circumstances of each convict while sending them to the gallows.
While Delhi Police had sought capital punishment for the convicts, the defence counsel had said they deserved leniency considering their poor family background and young age.
The police had told the bench that the horrific crime committed by these men warranted death penalty and the test of being a “rarest of rare” case was satisfied in this matter and the court should also consider the effect of crime committed by them on the victim and the society at large.
Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, who has assisted the court as an amicus curiae, had told the bench that there was no doubt that the crime committed was of “immense proportion” but as the evidence was not concrete, it does not warrant death penalty.
Senior counsel Raju Ramachandran, also an amicus curiae, had said that option of awarding jail term for the whole life to these convicts may also be considered.
Advocates A P Singh and M L Sharma, representing the four convicts, had said they should be given a chance to reform and considering the mitigating factors, the court should not award them death penalty. They also raised questions about the evidence collected by the police in the matter.
The trial court had awarded death penalty to the four convicts. Prime accused Ram Singh allegedly committed suicide in his cell in Tihar jail in March 2013 and proceedings against him were abated.
The high court, in its verdict, had observed that their offence fell in the rarest of the rare category and had upheld the death sentence awarded to them by the trial court.