New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the death sentence of the four men convicted for raping and murdering a 23-year-old paramedic student in a moving bus in Delhi in 2012.
“The brutal, barbaric and diabolic nature of the crime could create a tsunami of shock to destroy a civilised society. There is no new material to review our order. The rapists of Nirbhaya will hang,” the apex court bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan said rejecting the review petition of Mukesh, 29, Pawan Gupta, 22 and Vinay Sharma, 23.
The fourth death row convict, Akshay Kumar Singh, 31, had not filed a review petition against the judgement of May last year.
Out of the total six accused, bus driver Ram Singh had killed himself in his prison cell year later. The youngest accused, just days short of 18 when he committed the crime, was sent to a juvenile home, from where he was released after a three-year term.
The Supreme Court had last year upheld the verdict of Delhi High Court and the trial court sentencing the four men to death.
Reacting to ruling, victim Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi said her struggle for justice did not end here.
“We have faith in justice and the Supreme Court. It has been six years since the incident. Similar incidents are still taking place everyday. Our system has failed us. Our struggle didn’t end here. The delayed justice was affecting other daughters of the society. I request judiciary to tighten their system, serve justice to Nirbhaya by hanging the culprits as soon as possible and help other girls and women,” Devi told Gulf News.
Nirbhaya’s father Badri Prasad said his faith in the judiciary was reinstated after the verdict. He appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate steps to end atrocities towards women.
“We knew that review petition will be dismissed. But what next? So much time has gone by and threat to women has gone up in this span. I believe sooner they are hanged, better it is,” Prasad told Gulf News.
The convicts appealed to the court to review their sentence, saying it was “cold-blooded killing in the name of Justice”.
Lawyer for the convicts AP Singh said “injustice” had been meted out to the petitioners.
“The death sentence was upheld today due to the undue public and political pressure,” he told media adding that the convicts have the option of filing one more petition in the Supreme Court challenging their sentence.
The paramedic student was gang-raped and assaulted in a moving bus by the six men on December 16, 2012. She was violated with an iron rod when she protested. Her male friend was beaten severely, and both were thrown out of the bus at a secluded spot. She died 13 days later at a hospital in Singapore.
On the ruling, Chairperson of National Commission for Women Rekha Sharma said the judgement proved that justice can be delayed but not denied.
“I welcome this decision as it proves that justice can be delayed but not denied. It is a landmark decision,” Sharma said.
Delhi Women’s Commission Chairperson Swati Maliwal also welcomed the verdict.
“I welcome the Supreme Court decision on Nirbhaya matter of upholding the death penalty to rapists. Wish the decision could have come earlier. Urge authorities to urgently execute the death penalty and give justice to Nirbhaya,” Maliwal tweeted.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the punishment was a lesson to all those who attempted such horrid crimes.
“We stand by Nirbhaya’s parents, as always, in this quest of justice. Hope the government will now follow up to act decisively on issues of women’s safety,” he said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also hailed the verdict stating that it would act as a deterrent.
“This would act as a deterrent for those who indulge in such heinous crimes. Welcome the Supreme Court decision on Nirbhaya matter of upholding the death penalty to rapists. Wish the decision could have come earlier. Urge authorities to urgently execute the death penalty and give justice to Nirbhaya,” Kejriwal told Gulf News.
Meanwhile, reacting to the verdict, Amnesty International said executions do not eradicate violence against women.
“Unfortunately executions do not eradicate violence against women. There is no evidence to show that death penalty acts as a deterrent for sexual violence or any other crime. Instead, the government must allocate adequate resources for the effective implementation of laws, improve conviction rates and ensure certainty of justice in all cases. Even the Justice Verma Committee, whose recommendations were relied upon to reform the laws on sexual assault and rape, had opposed imposing death penalty in cases of rape,” Amnesty International India’s Programmes Director Asmita Basu told Gulf News.