NEW DELHI: All four accused were sent to the gallows in the December 16 gang-rape case as their plea for leniency on grounds of young age was rejected by the court which announced its verdict on Friday.
While dismissing the plea of Mukesh (26), Akshay Thakur (28), Pawan Gupta (19) and Vinay Sharma (20), additional sessions judge Yogesh Khanna said “the Supreme Court had repeatedly held that the young age of the accused is not a determinative factor by itself against the award of the death sentence.”
“Rather, all the circumstances need to be taken together and proper weightage to be given to each circumstance,” the court said and also added the Supreme Court has re-held the death sentence of Ajmal Kasab despite the young age of the convict.
While Kasab was 25-year-old, the court also referred to another rape case from West Bengal in which Dhananjoy Chatterjee’s leniency plea of young age of 25 was rejected by the apex court and he was hanged at the age of 34 years after his mercy plea was rejected by the President.
Both Kasab and Chatterjee were first-time offenders, the court noted while rejecting the plea of the December 16 convicts for a chance of reformation in view of clean antecedents.
The judge also stated that the four convicts, before committing the heinous crime, were involved in robbing a passenger in the same bus in which the ghastly incident had occurred, which “belies their claim of clean antecedents”.
The judge also cited the Supreme Court judgements to reject their ground for leniency considering their socio-economic status and that they were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident.
“The socio-economic status of the convict or the convict being under any intoxication cannot be the determinative factors in sentencing…,” he said.
“I can finally breathe, I am relieved and we are finally at peace. Our daughter has been given justice.” This is how the mother of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student, whose brutal rape on a moving bus on December 16 by six men triggered a nation-wide outrage, reacted when a fast track court sentenced four men to death terming the crime as the “rarest of rare”.
“It has been a difficult journey. The verdict has come. Justice has been delivered to us in true sense. We are happy with the judgement. If an appeal is filled, then also I think we will get justice,” the girl’s mother said at the Saket court complex here, with her husband by her side.
The fast-track court, set up following the massive protest in the city, handed down death sentenced to Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh for their involvement in the rape and murder of the girl.
One of the accused Ram Singh was found hanging in his prison cell in high-security Tihar jail on March 12 while the juvenile involved in the crime was given three years’ term by the juvenile justice board two weeks ago.
The father of the girl, who had sold his land in his native village in Uttar Pradesh’s Ballia to arrange for his daughter’s education, also expressed satisfaction over the court ordering the four convicts to the gallows.
“We are happy with the decision but our fight will continue till the they are hanged. We will visit the village in Ballia on death anniversary of our daughter and form an NGO to spread awareness on rape cases,” the father said.