New Delhi: A fast-track court here on Saturday framed charges against five accused in the brutal December 16 Delhi gang-rape case.
The five adult accused – bus driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Singh, sixth one being a minor whose role will be looked into by a Juvenile Justice Board – have been charged under 13 counts of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The trial in the case would finally begin on Tuesday (February 5).
Also on Tuesday, recording of evidence in the case would also start.
It may be noted that the hearing in the case at the fast-track court had started on January 21.
The fast-track court was set up last month to try the case which had led to a nationwide uproar against crimes against women.
The victim, a paramedical student, was brutally raped and assaulted in a moving bus here on the night of December 16, 2012 and she died of injuries on December 29.
The chargesheet, with annexures, runs into thousands of pages and includes the victim`s statement, details of the accused, evidence and forensic reports.
Police had charged the five accused under 13 sections of the IPC: sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 376 (2)(g) (gang-rape), 377 (unnatural offences), 395 (dacoity), 396 (murder in dacoity), 365 (kidnapping or abduction with intent to secretly or wrongfully confine a person), 394 (hurting in dacoity), 201 (destruction of evidence), 120B (conspiracy), 34 (common intention), 412 (dishonestly receiving stolen property), and 397 (robbery or dacoity with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt).
All the accused were arrested between December 17 and 21 following a nationwide outcry over the crime, which also triggered protests in several cities. In Delhi, protesters clashed with security forces.
The charges have been framed just a day after the Cabinet okayed an ordinance under which rape that leads to death of the victim or leaving her in a vegetative state could attract death penalty. The ordinance is aimed at fast-tracking stringent amendments to the criminal laws to check crime against women.
The ordinance, based on the recommendations of the Justice JS Verma Committee and going beyond, proposes to replace the word `rape` with `sexual assault` to expand the definition of all types of sexual crimes against women.
It also proposes enhanced punishment for other crimes against women like stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks, indecent gestures like words and inappropriate touch and brings into its ambit `marital rape`.
The Union Cabinet, at a specially-convened meeting just three weeks ahead of the Budget Session of Parliament, went beyond the Verma Committee`s recommendation by providing for capital punishment in the cases where rape leads to death of the victim or leaves her in "persistent vegetative state".
In such cases, the minimum punishment will be 20 years in jail which can be extended to the natural life of the convict or death, sources said, adding discretion will be with the court.
Being brought against the backdrop of the gang-rape and brutal assault of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi in December, the ordinance entails changes in the criminal law by amending Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Evidence Act.