Dec 16 gangrape: SC to hear plea filed by convicts to revoke death sentence

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Friday hear an appeal filed by the December 16 gangrape convicts, Akshay, Vinay Sharma, Pawan and Mukesh, challenging the Delhi High Court order which had awarded them death sentence.

The top court had on April 4 begun final hearing of the convicts’ appeal almost two years after staying their execution.

Two of the four death-row convicts had written to former Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Deepak Misra, stating that they do not approve of the defence counsel appointed by the court to argue their case before the top court as they had given statements against them to the media in the past.

The trial court had in September 2013 awarded death sentences to the convicts. Six months later, the Delhi High Court upheld their conviction and sentence. All the convicts moved the apex court in 2014, which stayed their execution.

Earlier, the apex court had declined the request by two amici curiae, senior counsel Raju Ramachandran and Sanjay R Hegde – to withdraw from assisting the court in the hearing of the appeals by the convicts in the gangrape case.

Asking both to continue assisting the court in the hearing of the appeals by the four accused convicted and sentenced to death, the three judge bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra, R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan said: “We can appreciate the anguish expressed by the learned amici curiae”.

Six people gang raped a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern in a moving bus and beat her and her male friend.

After violently raping and attacking her, they threw the girl outside the vehicle, along with her male friend. The girl succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital on December 29, 2012.

The incident led to large scale protests across the country, forcing the government of the day to make strict and punitive laws related to harassment of women.

One of the accused, Ram Singh hanged himself in prison, while another man, who was a juvenile at the time of the crime, was convicted in August and will serve the maximum sentence of three years in a reform home.