The trial of five men accused of murdering and raping a student on a Delhi bus last month will not be shifted from Delhi, the Supreme Court ruled today.
Defence lawyers had argued that the overwhelming public anger in the capital over the heinous assault is influencing the government, investigators and the judiciary, and that the five accused are not likely to get a fair trial in Delhi.
The five men, who face the death penalty if convicted, are being tried at a special fast-track court in South Delhi. The petition to relocate the trial was made by Mukesh Singh, the man who was allegedly driving the bus when Amanat (NOT her real name) was assaulted along with her boyfriend.
A sixth man who was arrested after the attack claims he was 17. The Juvenile Justice Board yesterday accepted that he is a juvenile offender, ensuring that he will be tried separately. The family of the student who died two weeks after she was raped described this as a serious compromise of justice. "The punishment should not be less even if he is a juvenile. They all deserve the same punishment. They all should be hanged," said her father to NDTV yesterday.
The teen faces a maximum sentence of three years in a reform facility. The police has described him as "an equal participant in the crime" and believes he was the most depraved of the six men who allegedly raped Amanat.
The endless horrors of the attack pierced India. In the streets, anger assimilated with grief in mass protests that demanded better policing for women and stricter laws to punish sexual offenders.
A committee of legal experts set up by the government to review existing laws submitted its report to the government last week. Headed by retired chief justice JS Verma, the commission has not recommended the death penalty for rapists, but has suggested sweeping and powerful changes to enhance punishment for sexual offences.