A division bench of Justice Reva Khetrapal and Justice Pratibha Rani dismissed the appeals of the four convicts and ruled that the demoniac, barbaric and nefarious nature of the crime made for a case of the " rarest of rare." The division bench also ruled that the horrific brutality involved in the crime called for exemplary punishment to send out a strong message to the society.
" A strong message needs to be sent to the perpetrators of this grotesque and ghastly crime that such an act shall not be countenanced, though we confess that we are not aware of any case that a crime such dimensions has been committed hitherto before. Exemplary punishment therefore the need of the hour. If this is not the rarest of rare there is likely to be none," the high court observed.
While ruling that the " spine chilling" crime called for the maximum punishment of death, the division bench quoted couplets and lines from poems to highlight the plight of women in the light of rampant crime against them.
On September 13 last year, the fast track court in Saket had held the five adult accused guilty of gang rape and murder of the girl in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012.
While the prime accused in the case, Ram Singh, was found dead in his prison cell during the course of the hearing, the fast track court had sentenced the other four adults to death.
The sixth accused, who was a juvenile at the time of commission of the crime, was directed to spend three years at a reformation centre by the Juvenile Justice Board.
While upholding the death sentence, the division bench of the high court relied on the prosecution's submissions including the testimonies of the witnesses, medical and scientific reports, DNA samples placing the convicts at the site of the crime and the dying declaration of the victim.
The court junked the defence's plea asking for leniency to the convicts based on a possibility of reformation saying the " pre- meditated and well- planned modus operandi" of the incident showed " exceptional licentiousness and perversion of a superlative degree" and proved that the convicts could not be reformed.
IT WAS a pleasant surprise for the parents of the December 16 gang rape victim who have been fighting for speedy justice.
" We are satisfied with the verdict. It is just as we had expected," the parents said after coming out of the Delhi High Court.
" I am waiting for the day when the convicts are hanged to death. This verdict will send out a strong message and a warning for anyone who commits such a crime," said the victim's mother.
" This is a victory for all, who stood by us and demanded justice," she said. The victim's father held back tears as he expressed happiness at the high court verdict.
" I was initially worried about the outcome but somewhere in my heart I also had faith in the judiciary.
I am very happy today. I believe this judgment will probably deter people from committing such heinous crimes in the future," he said.
Mail Today/ New Delhi
SPECIAL Public Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan vehemently contended that the Supreme Court, in a string of decisions, had emphasised that " depravity of the mind of the convicts and the brutality demonstrated in committing the offence constitute special reasons required for the award of death sentence." Krishnan highlighted the fact that the repeated incidents of gang rape in Delhi and Mumbai had led to the widespread feeling that women in the two metropolitans were unsafe.
By giving the maximum sentence the message to the society would be that deviant behaviour of an extreme kind would not be tolerated. By not handing out the maximum sentence, the message would be loud and clear that criminals could get away with incidents like this.
DEFENCE lawyers M. L. Sharma and A. P. Singh pleaded before the high court that their clients deserved leniency. The grounds on which the defence pleaded leniency included the young age of the convicts, their socio- economic conditions, their clean antecedents and the chance of reformation, the presumption of innocence being in their favour, life imprisonment being the rule and death being an exception and there being no such reasons to award death sentence, and they being convicted only on the ground of conspiracy and not their individual acts.
The court junked the defence's plea saying that from the modus operandi of the incident it was inconceivable that the same " could have been replicated by another set of persons on the same very night." " Great emphasis was placed by A. P. Singh, that the eyewitness did not mention the names of the accused persons on the first incident that he was questioned though the injuries sustained by him were subsequently opined to be simple in nature. We are unable to find any force in the aforesaid submissions. At the relevant time, the victims were beaten, traumatised and assaulted in an unimaginable manner before being thrown out of the bus. There was considerable time lag between the time when they were thrown out of the bus and the time they were rescued. The desire to have apprehended their assailants and to mete out just desserts to them could not have been their priority," the court said.
ON THE DYING DECLARATION
The defence had also questioned the inconsistencies in the three dying declarations given by the victim before she succumbed to her injuries at a Singapore hospital.
The court, however, junked the same saying that the Supreme Court had dwelt elaborately on the matter of dying declarations and it had held that it was " not required for multiple dying declarations to be identical with each other to pass the test of admissibility" .
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