New Delhi: Over four years after a 23-year-old medical student on her way back after watching a movie was beaten, gang-raped and her intestines pulled out, the Supreme Court will decide today if the four men sentenced to death for the brutal crime should be spared the gallows. A trial court had ruled in 2013 they should be hanged, and the high court confirmed this sentence the next year. But the four - Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh - had appealed against the verdict to the Supreme Court.
- 23-year-old Nirbhaya beaten, gang-raped on a bus in Delhi in 2012
- 4 sentenced to death by trial court in 2013, 1 sent to juvenile home
- Two-judge Supreme Court bench will give verdict today
There were two more people in the bus on the cold winter night of 16 December 2012. Ram Singh, who was at the wheels of the bus that the young girl training to be a physiotherapist and her friend had boarded at Munirka in south Delhi. Ram Singh was found hanging in Tihar jail in March 2013, months before they were convicted. Last August, Vinay Sharma had also tried to commit suicide.
The sixth convict was just short of 18 when he brutalised the girl, dubbed Nirbhaya. He walked out of a correction home in December 2015 after spending three years under the country's juvenile law, sparking public outrage and an overhaul of the juvenile law. Now, a juvenile between 16 and 18 years can be treated as an adult if they commit a heinous crime.
Friday's ruling by the top court's three-judge bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Madan B Lokur and R Banumathi would be the last opportunity for the four to convince a court to pull them away from the death row. If the three judges - they will deliver their verdict separately - agree to reject their plea, it would push the four closer to the gallows.
The four accused in the Delhi gangrape case.
They will still have the option to seek a presidential pardon. Or file a review petition again in the top court. But it is rare for the top court to change its mind, unless the plea makes a new, valid point.
In 2015, the four had also been sentenced to 10 years jail for a robbery that the police was able to link to them after their arrest for the gang-rape. An appeal against this conviction is pending in the high court.