India top court dismisses appeal over death penalty of 2012 gang-rape-murder suspect


The appeal against the death penalty by one of four men convicted of the grisly gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi, has been dismissed by India’s top court on Wednesday, ruling that it found no reason to review the sentence.

The four were convicted in 2013 of the rape, torture and murder of the physiotherapy student in New Delhi in 2012, an attack that brought shockwaves across the world. She died of her injuries in a hospital in Singapore.

The victim in the 2012 case came from a lower-middle class family and worked in a call centre while she studied.

Her mother told reporters outside the court that she welcomed the ruling and hoped all four men would be executed soon.

“This is one step closer to justice,” she said.

The case prompted India to enact tough new laws against sexual violence, including the death penalty for rape in some cases, but implementation has been poor and the attacks have shown no signs of let-up.

A woman is raped every 20 minutes in India on average, according to government data.

Last year, the court dismissed sentence review pleas filed by the three other defendants in the 2012 case. A fifth allegedly committed suicide in jail in 2013, and a sixth, a juvenile, was convicted and released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term in 2016.

A.P. Singh, the lawyer for the defendant whose appeal was dismissed on Wednesday, said he would appeal again. He has the option to file a mercy plea with the president.

In another high-profile case that fuelled public anger, a court on Monday found Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a lawmaker formerly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, guilty of raping a teenager in 2017. Sengar had pleaded not guilty, and his family said they plan to appeal.

India has been rocked by two other recent cases: the killing of a young woman in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh allegedly by two men she had accused of having raped her, and the murder of a 27-year-old vet in India’s IT hub of Hyderabad, who police said was abducted, raped and asphyxiated and her body set ablaze. (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation)