New Delhi: A special fast-track court today framed charges against five men accused of brutally gang-raping and murdering a medical student in Delhi in December last year. Their trial and recording of evidence will begin on Tuesday.
The accused, Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Vinay, Pawan and Akshay have been booked under 13 sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including murder, gang-rape, sodomy and kidnapping. The five men have pleaded not guilty to these charges. Next day of hearing has been fixed as February 5.
The accused will now face trial for which maximum sentence is death. The police will file supplementary chargesheet next week, that will include the post-mortem report.
A sixth man arrested in the case has been declared a minor by the Juvenile Justice Board. The board went by his school certificate, which declares his age to be 17 years and six months, and rejected the Delhi police's plea for a bone test.
The juvenile will be tried separately and 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 attackers.
The medical student, 'Amanat' (NOT her real name), was gang-raped on the night of December 16 in a moving bus, which was running without permit. The men first attacked the student and her friend with an iron rod and then gang-raped her.
The student died on December 29 in a Singapore hospital after a brave battle for survival. She underwent several surgeries, including one at Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital to have her intestines removed, and suffered a cardiac arrest and brain damage.
The magnitude of the assault and her death shook the country, triggering fiery protests demanding better policing for women and a review of laws that deal with sexual offenders.
The overwhelming public anger had prompted one of the suspects to appeal for the trial to be shifted out of Delhi, but the Supreme Court turned down the request.
The Justice JS Verma commission set up by the government in the wake of the protests had reviewed India's laws on sexual offences and recommended sweeping changes to enhance punishment. The government yesterday brought in an ordinance to introduce tougher jail terms for crimes against women, including death penalty in extreme cases.