They were convicted on Tuesday but sentencing was deferred while the judge Yogesh Khanna considered pleas from defence lawyers to spare the death penalty.
The sentence had been called for by the family of the victim, who cannot be named, as justice for their daughter, although they remain angry that the fifth member of the gang, who was a minor at the time of the attack, received only a three year sentence, the maximum for a juvenile. The sixth member of the gang, its leader Ram Singh was found hanging in a Delhi prison earlier this year.
The brutality of the attack on the woman, which was reported in rare detail in the Indian media, provoked protests throughout the country and soul searching over the violence and discrimination suffered by its women. It also led to tougher penalties for rape and sexual assaults and a proposal by India’s former Chief Justice for a Bill of Rights for women.
Lawyers for the four convicted, Mukesh Singh, 26, Vinay Sharma, 20, Akshay Thakur, 28, and Pawan Gupta, 19, said they would appeal against the verdict and the death sentence. The sentence must first be confirmed by the High Court and the convicted men will have 90 days to launch their appeal to the Supreme Court.
Their executions, if upheld, could still be further delayed if the men appeal to the President to commute the sentence to life imprisonment.
The judge reached his decision after considering whether any of the four could be reformed in prison and appeals on behalf of the two youngest convicts for the age to be taken into consideration.
Lawyers for Mukesh Singh, the brother of Ram Singh, had argued that he had not been involved in the attacks but had merely driven the bus throughout. The argument was rejected by the judge who said there had been compelling DNA evidence against him but that even if he had not taken an active part, it would not have been a defence because he had not done anything to stop the attacks. He had been guilty of an “illegal admission,” he said.
In finding the men guilty, the judge said the men had bitten the victim and inserted iron rods into her with the intention of killing her. They had even called out ‘mar gayee’ – kill her – before throwing her and her friend from their moving bus, he said.
The victim had been taken to the rear of the bus where they attempted to rape her, and then beat her with iron rods in the abdomen when she resisted. Their assault had caused the “complete destruction of the most vital parts of her body” with the “intention of causing death,” he said.
The judge, Yogesh Khanna, said the crime amounted to the “rarest of the rare” required by Indian law to justify a death sentence.
“These are the times when gruesome crimes against women have become rampant. Society needs to be shown that the will be no tolerance…therefore I sentence them to death, he told the court.
The judge said the case had “shocked the collective conscience” of India and that the courts could not “turn a blind eye towards such gruesome crime.”
One of the convicts, Vinay Sharma broke down in tears as the sentence was announced.
V.K Anand, advocate for Mukesh Singh,Moho had denied involvement in the assaults and claimed he had only driven the bus, said he would be launching an appeal against both the guilty verdict and the death sentence. he said the court had admitted unlawful evidence. “There must be some leniency,” he said.
The verdict was met by loud cheers and applause from a large crowd of lawyers and onlookers outside the court.
The victim’s father, Badrinath Singh,welcomed the verdict as justice for his daughter. “This is the verdict we waiting for and I can’t express my happiness when the judge said they will be hanged. I feel my daughter has now got justice.”
Source: The Telegraph