The Supreme Court confirmed the death sentence awarded to four convicts in the Nibhaya gang rape case of 2012, a verdict welcomed with spontaneous clapping in the overcrowded visitors' gallery unseen in the courtroom in recent years. In a strong message that the diabolic crime had shocked the collective conscience of the society, and that the court cannot but treat it as a rarest of rare case where death sentences are awarded, a three-judge bench agreed that the accused did not deserve any sympathy .
Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh were sentenced to death by a trial court in 2013 for the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi.The key accused, Ram Singh, died while in custody. Another was a juvenile when the crime was committed and was sent to a reformatory for three years, the maximum penalty under the law at the time for those who were under the age of 18. They had been found guilty of raping the woman in a moving bus, sexually assaulting her with an iron rod and dumping her on the roadside bleeding, leading to her death a few days later in a Singapore hospital. The convicts' lawyers said they would seek a review of the judgement. They can also seek presidential mercy .
The Delhi High Court had confirmed the death sentence, which was then challenged by the four in the top court. DNA profiling, fingerprints, witness testimonies and odontology proved to the hilt the presence of the accused in the bus and their involvement in the crime, the SC bench said. “The casual manner with which she was treated and the devilish manner in which they played with her identity and dignity is humanly inconceivable. It sounds like a story from a different world where humanity has been treated with irreverence,“ the bench com prising Justices Dipak Misra, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan said.
“The appetite for sex, the hunger for violence, the position of the empowered and the attitude of perversity, to say the least, are bound to shock the collective conscience which knows not what to do,“ the court said.