Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: In a verdict that was awaited by the whole nation, a fast-track court here on Tuesday held four accused guilty in the brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old trainee paramedic, describing it as `premeditated` and `brutal` act. The judgement came nine months after the crime, which outraged the whole nation and saw massive protests on the streets, forcing the government to come up with tougher anti-rape laws.
Of the total six accused, the prime conspirator – Ram Singh – had earlier this year killed himself in jail, while a minor accused was on August 31 sentenced to three years in a special home by the Juvenile Justice Board. The 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist was lured by the six onto a bus on December 16 last year and then brutally raped and tortured her with a metal bar. She later died in a Singapore hospital.
Holding Mukesh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur guilty on the basis of both traditional method and scientific evidence like DNA profiling, the court headed by Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna convicted them on 13 counts.
The quantum of punishment will be decided later by the court which will hear arguments on sentence tomorrow.
Also Read: Delhi gang-rape: The men who shamed India
The 237-page judgement, also found complicity of Ram Singh. During the brief proceedings, the judge observed that even though proceedings against Ram Singh (34) were abated on his death, "he is also convicted under same sections (gang-rape, murder and other offences)." However, this does not form part of the judgement.
Besides gang-rape, murder and conspiracy, the court held Mukesh (26), Vinay Sharma (20), Pawan Gupta (19) and Akshay Thakur (28) guilty of attempt to murder, unnatural offences, dacoity, destruction of evidence, kidnapping or abducting in order to murder, while acquitting them of the charge of murder in dacoity.
The court also convicted them for kidnapping or abducting with intent to secretly and wrongfully confining a person, abducting to subject a person to grievous hurt and slavery, abducting woman to cause her defilement, voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery and dishonestly receiving property stolen in the commission of a dacoity.
The court said the accused adopted a unique modus operandi to do acts and it was an "intended act done with sole intention of causing death."
"Accused persons adopted a unique modus operandi to do the acts. They, besides causing external injuries, inserted rods in the abdomen of the victim. They did the act repeatedly and pulled out vital internal organs even by their hands. All these circumstances made the act of the accused an intended act done with sole intention of causing death.
The court inferred prior meeting of minds of the accused as it noted that after robbing the carpenter, Ram Adhar, they again brought the bus to Munirka bus stand where they enticed the victim and her male friend to board the vehicle making them believe that it was a public carriage.
Also Read: December 16 Delhi gang-rape case - Timeline
"The conduct of accused in not allowing anyone else to enter the bus after the victims had boarded it and to move immediately away from the bus stop speak of their unlawful object and their prior meeting of minds," the ASJ said.
Rejecting the defence argument that the girl had died due to delayed medical aid and infection caught in the hospital during treatment, judge Khanna observed that "the important aspect of this trial is the manner in which both rods and hands were used for damaging the alimentary canal and pulling it out from the body (of the girl).
"This act of complete destruction of the most vital parts of the body can never be termed as intending to cause bodily injuries and rather it will be act done with intention of causing death."
The judge said they had conspired to gang-rape her and the crime had been committed in a "premeditated manner".
The accused earlier this year, had pleaded not guilty to attacking and killing the woman. Two of the four accused had said they were at a party at the time, while another said he was in his native village in the eastern state of Bihar.
The fourth admitted he was driving the bus on the night of the attack, but said he did not see or hear anything as the lights were switched off.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that under the new tough anti-rape laws, the guilty will surely be hanged. New laws brought in by the government prescribe death penalty in cases where the rape victim dies or is left in a vegetative state. The laws also prescribed penalties for stalking, groping, voyeurism and acid attacks.
Nirbhaya`s family happy but demand death for accused
While the family of the victim is happy with the verdict, they are demanding nothing less than death penalty for the four held guilty.
“When we go out and see other girls smile and giggle, we think our daughter would have also smiled like this, giggled like this; those would have been such wonderful moments. It pains us deeply when we think about that,” the victim’s father told Reuters news agency.
“Our daughter cannot come back now, but our goal is to ensure that the criminals get punished, they get hanged and our daughter gets justice,” the mother said.
"We will not accept anything below the death penalty," added the father, who cannot be named for legal reasons. "Anything other than the gallows for these men will not be right. It would send out the wrong message. People will lose trust in our judicial system."
Leaders demand death penalty for convicts as a deterrent
Cutting across party lines, political leaders today demanded death penalty for the four convicts in December 16 gang-rape case, saying the punishment should set a precedent so that nobody dares to even think of committing such an act.
"They should be given capital punishment, as this is a case of gang-rape and murder. The incident is of heinous crime and the provisions of law also favour capital punishment. The four should be hanged so it would be a model and deter others from committing such crime," said Sushma Swaraj, senior BJP leader and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha.
Sharing her views, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat stressed on the need to expedite trials in such incidents as there were thousands of pending cases which were waiting for justice for years.
Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said that the incident had not only shocked Delhi but also whole nation. She said her government had set up the fast track court and "they have done, so let us just see what the next step would be".
Delhi Police gets praise from court, says case marks new chapter
Delhi Police today came in for special praise for using scientific investigation techniques in the probe into the December 16 gang-rape case by the city court which convicted the four men after a fast track trial.
"Lastly, I also feel it necessary to mention the professional acumen with which the Delhi Police investigated the case especially the way they made use of the scientific tools.
While referring to the court`s observations, Joint Commissioner of Police (South-West) Vivek Gogia said the case has started a new chapter of systematic evidence gathering.
Gogia, who had supervised the probe case, said, "In this case, we have lead evidence in four steps, first is physical identification in the court, second is identification before the magistrate, third, identification through technical data and fourth was identification through scientific data."
With Agency inputs