Supreme Court on Friday upheld death sentences to the four convicted in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case.
The brutal crime against the 23-year-old victim had provoked national outrage and demand for a more stringent law to deal with sex crimes against women.
The victim was assaulted and raped by six persons in a moving bus in south Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle along with her male friend on December 16 night. She later died in a Singapore hospital.
In 2013, Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 or the Anti-Rape Bill, which was later called the Nirbhaya Act, came into existence. The new law mandated death penalty under Section 376A of the Indian Penal Code.
Under Section 376A, whoever commits rape, which leads to the death of the victim or causes her to be in a “persistent vegetative state,” shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a minimum term of 20 years which may extend to life or with death.
The three-judge Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra wrapped up the marathon hearings on their appeals on March 27. The appeals were heard for almost a year on a day-to-day basis.
The arguments ended with senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Delhi Police, strongly pushing for death penalty for the convicts as a proportionate punishment for their “brutal crime.”
Amicus curiae and senior advocate Raju Ramachandran had, however, opposed, asking the court to consider sentencing the convicts to a life in prison.
Incidentally, the Bench had prima facie agreed with the contention of the amicus that Section 235 of the Code of Criminal Procedure — which provides that a trial court should individually hear a convict before sentencing him — was not followed in this case.