Four accused held guilty of rape, murder in Delhi gangrape case, sentencing tomorrow

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Protesters stage a mock hanging scene to demand death sentence for four men after the four accused of Delhi gang rape case were convicted by a court, in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo
Protesters stage a mock hanging scene to demand death sentence for four men after the four accused of Delhi gang rape case were convicted by a court, in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI Photo

A fast track court in Saket today convicted the remaining four of the six accused in the gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student onboard a moving bus in New Delhi, in December last year. The court is expected to deliver the quantum of sentence tomorrow and hear arguments on the same.

Additional sessions judge Yogesh Khanna held that the prosecution had established that the accused – Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta were guilty on 12 of the 13 charges slapped against them including rape, unnatural offences, attempt to murder and destroying evidence. The court however acquitted them of the charge of murder in dacoity (Section 396 of the Indian Penal Code – IPC).

Of the two remaining accused, 34-year-old Ram Singh was found dead, hanging in his prison cell after he allegedly committed suicide on 11 March this year while the other, a juvenile at the time of the crime, was sentenced on 31 August to 3 years in a juvenile home of which he has already served eight months. While delivering the verdict, the judge said that even though the proceedings against Ram Singh were abated following his death, “he is also convicted under the same sections.”

The charges under which they were convicted as per the Sections of the IPC:
376 (2)g – Gangrape
302 – Murder
34 – Common intention
365- Kidnapping/abducting with secret or wrongful intent to confine person
120 B – Criminal conspiracy
412 – Dishonestly receiving stolen property
395 – Punishment for dacoity
307 – Attempt to murder
377 – Unnatural sex
366 – Abduction with the intention of committing illicit intercourse
201 – Destruction of evidence
394 – Voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery

Lawyers present in the packed courtroom, where the judgment was delivered, say that two of the accused Vinay and Pawan broke down on hearing the judgment. The charge of murder under which all the accused are convicted, holds a minimum punishment of life term and a maximum of the death penalty. Many who were at the Saket court for the hearing of their own cases also added to the massive crowd outside the court room as journalists argued with cops to let them into the crammed courtroom. “I wanted to see what a monster looks like,” said one such bystander.

All three defense lawyers confirmed to TEHELKA that they would appeal the quantum of punishment to try for minimum sentence for their clients. Sources in both the prosecution and defence say that they are expecting a sentence of capital punishment. Accused Mukesh Singh’s lawyer, VK Anand maintains that his “client was only driving the bus and was not a participant in the rape and murder of the girl because of which he should only be sentenced to a maximum of a life term and not the death penalty.” He further added that public sentiment has no value in the legal system. The parents of Mukesh and the deceased accused Ram Singh were present in court but sat muted in a corner and did not respond to questions from the media. The gangrape victim’s parents too were present and expressed faith in the judiciary and the media for helping to get justice for their daughter.

AP Singh, lawyer for the remaining two accused – Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur alleged that it was due to government and media pressure that the judgment for conviction was given and that his clients were being used to set examples. “It is a political judgment and these boys with no criminal background against them or anyone in their families are being targeted,” he said. Accused Pawan Gupta’s lawyer, Vivek Sharma said that due process would be followed and that he would present his arguments once the quantum of sentence is specified tomorrow.

Soon after the verdict was given, a small group called the “16 December Kranti” protested outside the court premises asking for the death penalty for all the accused including the juvenile who was given three years which is the maximum permissible punishment given to juveniles. The group staged mock hangings, showing men with black masks over their head and nooses around their necks. “We have a list of 10 demands which we’re asking people to support at Jantar Mantar. Our demands includes ensuring all the accused are hung and that fast track courts are set up at all levels to deal with cases of rape and sexual assault,” said Santhosh Bore, one of the protestors.

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