Nirbhaya's rapists will be hanged, SC rejects convicts' plea

Nirbhaya's mother and father protest

The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday will decide whether the four men who raped and tortured the medical student, who later came to be known as "Nirbhaya" or fearless, will have their death sentences reduced to life terms in prison.

Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh, who have always pleaded their innocence, had challenged last year's ruling that upheld their death sentence. Besides these two convicts, the apex court also rejected the review plea of another death-row convict Mukesh.

"In these review petitions, no ground has been made out which may furnish any ground to review the judgment, We, thus, find no merit in these review petitions and consequently, the review petitions are dismissed", said Justice Bhushan, who authored the judgment on behalf of the bench. It said the convicts were heard elaborately during appeals and no grounds have been made out for review of its verdict. They can file one last petition with the Supreme Court, and if it's again rejected, they can seek presidential mercy, said A.P. Singh, the defence attorney. "This is an attempt to murder by the State". The woman was raped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 in a running bus in south Delhi by six persons. After nearly two weeks, the victim succumbed to her injuries in a Singapore hospital where she was flown in a last ditch bid to save her life. Another accused Ram Singh had allegedly committed suicide at the Tihar jail.

A sixth suspect was just months short of 18 years when the crime took place. He was awarded 3 years of sentence in a special home.

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In 2017, Amnesty International India had said that India was one of the only 3 countries in the world which expanded the scope of the death penalty by adopting new laws.

"I'll only be completely satisfied when they are hanged, but I have faith in the judicial system". At the time, due to Indian laws that prohibit the naming of rape victims, sections of the media referred to Singh as "Nirbhaya", which means fearless, a nod to her determination to survive in the days after the incident.

She claimed that lawmakers in the country hold up capital punishment as a symbol of their resolve to tackle crime and choose to ignore more hard and effective solutions like improving investigations, prosecutions and support for victims' families.

There were some 40,000 rapes reported in India in 2016, according to the most recent official figures available.

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