A Delhi court is expected to deliver its verdict today against four men accused of gang-raping a 23-year-old student on December 16 in Delhi, who eventually succumbed to injuries sustained in the incident. Two others were also accused of the crime. While 35-year-old Ram Singh was found hanging in his prison cell earlier this year, the other, a juvenile at the time of the crime, was found guilty on August 31 and sentenced to three years in a reformatory home.
On the night of December 16, last year, a 23-year-old paramedical student and her 28-year-old male friend were returning to Dwarka after watching a movie at the Select Citywalk mall in Saket, New Delhi when she was gangraped in a moving bus the two of them had boarded.
Massive nationwide protests followed in the days that the victim spent battling for her life at Safdarjung hospital in Delhi. Thousands of people in various cities took to the streets protesting against the government’s lack of safety measures for women.
On December 23, 2012 a three member Committee headed by Justice J.S. Verma, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, was constituted to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law for stricter laws and faster trials for sexual assault against women. As the victim’s health gradually deteriorated, she was flown to Singapore for emergency treatment, despite which she succumbed to her injuries on December 29. After her death, the police added the charges of murder against the accused, in addition to that of rape.
The police claimed that the six accused lured the woman and her friend into the private bus, giving them tickets for the journey as is done in private run buses, which are used by many as public transport in Delhi. Once in, the accused began to harass the woman and her friend and after an altercation, beat up the friend and proceeded to take turns to rape the woman. Both, the woman and her friend were assaulted with an iron rod. The doctors who were treating her stated that the assaulters had inserted the rod into her, completely damaging several internal organs.
Though the five adult accused pleaded not guilty, the victim’s statement given to the Sub Divisional Magistrate while she was in Safdarjung hospital in addition to the statements given by her friend, the only witness, stand as crucial evidence.
The trial, which was fast tracked, took seven months and 130 hearings to conclude.
In addition to the convicted juvenile and deceased bus driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta are the other accused.
If convicted, the accused stand to be sentenced to the death penalty. The family of the victim has repeatedly asked for the death penalty for all of the accused. The brother of the victim recently attacked the juvenile offender on the day of his final hearing, despite the Juvenile Justice Board sentencing him to three years which is the maximum permissible sentence given for juvenile offenders irrespective of the severity of the crime.