New Delhi: Five men charged with last month's rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi will be produced before a court in the Capital on Monday.
Ram Singh, Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur are expected to be brought to the Saket court a little past noon. The court has taken cognisance of the charges against them and issued production warrants.
The sixth accused in the case is 17 years old, according to a school document, and has been kept at a juvenile home since his arrest. The Juvenile Justice Board has summoned the principal of the school where the juvenile studied up to class 7, in a village in Uttar Pradesh. The police are investigating the authenticity of the certificate from the school which says the juvenile was a little over 17 years of age on the date of the incident. (Arrested juvenile must be tried as an adult: lawyer)
Police sources say the sixth accused was the most barbaric during the attack on the student in a moving bus on the night of December 16. A close associate of the family of the student's male friend, who accompanied her in the bus, has said he will file a petition seeking that the juvenile be tried as an adult. (Juvenile raped 'Amanat' twice, once while she was unconscious: police sources)
In addition to rape and murder, the police have charged the five men with destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy. Results of DNA tests conducted on the men, aged 19 to 35, allegedly link them to the crime. If convicted, they could face death penalty. (DNA tests establish guilt, says prosecution)
"We have filed all the evidence. The blood of the student tallied with the stains found on the clothes of the accused," said Rajiv Mohan, public prosecutor. He has asked for a closed trial and requested that the court protect the identity and privacy of the student and her family.
The evidence presented by the police will include the testimony recorded by the student while she was critical in hospital, and the account of her male friend. The two had boarded the bus after watching The Life of Pi at a south Delhi mall.
The six men, allegedly drunk, began assaulting them with an iron rod before they gang-raped the student. An hour later, they threw the couple onto the road. The police says that the man driving the bus tried to run the student over, but her friend managed to save her just in time. The student died on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.
The attack wounded and shamed India, triggering a public demand for tough rape laws, better police protection for women and faster trials for cases of sexual assault. (Sign petition here for women's safety)
A series of missteps by the government in its handling of public sorrow and rage over the student's case deepened the perception that it is estranged from the people. A committee of legal experts, headed by retired Supreme Court judge JS Verma, is reviewing criminal laws and will suggest what changes can or should be made for laws that handle sexual assault crimes. The team will submit its report within a month.
(With inputs from agencies)