- In Dec 2012 gangrape case, top court has confirmed death for 4 convicts
- 'Accused were obsessed about ravishing her life', say judges
- 4 convicts had appealed against death sentence
Four of the men held guilty of raping and torturing a 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus in Delhi in December 2012 will hang, the Supreme Court said on Friday, describing the crime as a "story of a different world". The court referred to the dying declaration of the young woman and said the "brutal and demonic" crime had been proved beyond doubt.
"If ever a case called for hanging, this was it," said the three judges, confirming the death penalty handed by two courts. "Gruesome", "gross", "sadistic" and "beastly" were some of the words used in the 429-page order.
The verdict was pronounced to loud applause in court, in the presence of the parents of the woman who came to be known as "Nirbhaya" or fearless. Her mother wept silently.
On December 16 2012, the physiotherapy student and her friend climbed onto a bus in south Delhi, assured by the driver that they would be dropped off at their destination. The woman was gang-raped by six men for hours, brutalised with an iron rod and her intestines were pulled out. She died in a Singapore hospital 13 days later, leaving millions in shock.
"The accused were obsessed about ravishing her life, she was treated as an object of enjoyment," said the judges, noting that the offence created a "tsunami of shock". The convicts, they said, also tried to run over the woman and her friend after dumping them on a road, naked and bleeding.
Amid outrage and street protests not just in India but also in other parts of the world, four of the rapists were sentenced to death by a trial court in 2013. A year later, the high court confirmed it. But Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh moved the Supreme Court for mercy.
Ram Singh, the bus driver, was found hanging in his cell in Tihar jail in March 2013, months before the rapists were convicted. The sixth convict was just short of 18 when he was arrested. He walked out of a correction home in December 2015 after spending three years - the maximum punishment for minors - sparking public outrage and an overhaul of the juvenile law.
The crime sparked big protests and led thousands of women to break their silence over sexual violence that often goes unreported. Propelled by the anger, the government stiffened penalties against sex crimes, introduced fast-track trials in rape cases and made stalking a crime.
The convicts still have the option of appealing twice against the Supreme Court ruling and also a presidential pardon.