Nirbhaya gangrape: SC upholds death sentence for Jyoti Singh's rapists and murderers
The Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence awarded to four men convicted of gang-raping and killing Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi, on December 16, 2012. The fifth adult accused had killed himself in prison during the trial, and the sixth accused, a juvenile, was convicted by another court and sentenced to three years.
The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan gave two separate judgments in the case. Justice Banumathi wrote a separate judgment. However, she also concurred with Justices Misra and Bhushan over upholding the death sentence.
Noting the "diabolical" nature of the crime, the court said the mitigating circumstances warranted no merit. Evidence brought in by prosecution was sufficient and clinching in nature, the bench said. They also said that the CCTV footage submitted was correct.
The death sentence was awarded to the four convicts Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur by a trial court in 2013. The sentence was upheld by the Delhi High Court in 2014, which also rejected the convicts’ appeal and called their crime “completely revolting”, and that it had been committed “in an extremely fiendish, demoniac, barbaric and nefarious manner.”
"Society's abhorrence to atrocious crimes perpetrated upon innocent and helpless victims has resulted in the death penalty being retained on the statute book to remind such criminals that human life is very precious and one who dares to take the life of others must lose his own life," the High Court had said.
Jyoti Singh's parents have been very vocal about the fact that they want her daughter's assaulters to be awarded a death sentence.
The convicts then moved Supreme Court challenging the death penalty. The hearings for the same had commenced on April 4, 2016. In the case of Mukesh and Pawan, the Supreme Court had stayed their death sentence on March 15, 2014, and that of Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur was stayed on June 3, 2014.
Of the six accused, Ram Singh hung himself in Tihar jail in March 2013. Another accused was a juvenile. He was tried separately and sent to a reform home for three years – the maximum punishment for a minor. He has since been released after completing mandatory probation period in a remand home.
The case had taken the media by storm and had shaken the country. The moniker ‘Nirbhaya’ was associated with Jyoti Singh’s name and came to be rallying point for conversation around women’s rights and security. Jyoti succumbed to grave intestinal injuries on December 29, 2012 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.