Delhi Gang Rape: Four accused found guilty

The gang-rape of a student in a moving bus last December in Delhi shocked the entire nation and became a catalyst to talk about widespread gender violence in India. Today, the four accused have been found guilty Dhanya Nair reports

Gender Violence

Four men charged with the fatal gang rape of a student in the Indian capital Delhi last December have been found guilty. Judge Yogesh Khanna delivered the judgment this morning shortly after noon local time at the district court of Saket in south Delhi. The court found the accused– Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur—guilty on 13 counts. The charges against the accused include murder, attempt to murder, gang rape, unnatural offence, destruction of evidence and conspiracy. The men will be sentenced on Wednesday.

The men will be sentenced on Wednesday.The men are likely to face death by hanging, although life imprisonment is also a possibility.

The men are likely to face death by hanging, although life imprisonment is also a possibility. Their lawyers have stated that they would appeal. The trial of the men, aged between 19 and 34, started in January. The case was put on a fast-track hearing but despite the move it took seven months and 130 hearings to reach a culmination. The case also saw several turning points which could be seen as a major blow to justice.

One of the accused in the case escaped severe punishment because of his juvenile status.  The investigation officers have stated that the juvenile convicted last month was the most violent of the attackers of the girl. The Court found out that the he was 170 days short of turning 18 and therefore was punished under the prevalent juvenile laws and not the Indian Penal Code.

If he had been 18, the juvenile could have been sentenced to a life term. However, according to his school certificate, he was born on June 4, 1995, which means he was 17 years, 6 months and 11 days old on 16th December–the night the crime was committed. The Juvenile Justice Board factored and declared him as one. The maximum sentence that the juvenile got away with was imprisonment of three years.

Another key accused, Ram Singh, was found hanging inside his cell in Tihar Jail and the trial against him has been abated. The 33-year-old was a driver by profession and had an unsavoury reputation in his neighbourhood as a violent alcoholic.

The Delhi incident provoked wide-spread outrage in India with protests from every corner. It also led to an unprecedented national discussion about sexual violence and calls for extensive changes in cultural attitudes, policing, and legal reform. The international image of the country was damaged, with numbers of women tourists dropping significantly. The case has called for severe punishments for sexual offenses. UN police adviser and former cop, Kiran Bedi has tweeted, “Severity and Certainty of punishment is a very important deterrent. This is what works in developed democracies. We can learn!”

The prosecution case relied on testimony from 85 witnesses, a statement given by the victim before she died, DNA samples, dental records that matched the teeth of some of the men with bite marks on the victim’s body and the evidence of her male friend, who was also assaulted in the attack. The two were eventually dumped on a roadside on the outskirts of Delhi, and the woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.

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