Delhi gang-rape convicts finally hanged

The crime shook the nation, drew international attention and led to passage of stringent laws against rape.

The four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gang-rape case were hanged at 5:30 am on Friday, more than seven years after committing the heinous crime in which a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was brutally gang-raped in a moving bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012, and thrown on the road to die.

The woman died of internal injuries nearly two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.

There were six men who had committed the crime, but Ram Singh, the bus driver, committed suicide and a juvenile accused was released after spending three years in a reform home.

The crime shook the nation, drew international attention and led to passage of stringent laws against rape. The men accused of the crime were convicted within a year – and death sentence upheld by Supreme Court in 2017 – but its execution took painfully long as year after year, the lawyers representing these men took advantage of the legal remedies available to convicts to delay their hanging.

The road to the gallows was full of setbacks for the family of the victim, but her parents continued with the legal battle to see the culprits hanged. “The biggest victory would be when they are hanged,” the woman’s mother said during the course of the trial which saw four death warrants in about two months.

The families of the convicts, meanwhile, kept pleading that the legal system should show some mercy and commute their death sentences into life. Some family members also claimed that these convicts are “innocent”. As the final petition was rejected on Thursday, the wife of one of the convicts fainted outside the Delhi court.

The four convicts – fruit-seller Pawan Gupta, unemployed Mukesh Singh, bus cleaner Akshay Thakur and gym instructor Vinay Sharma – reached the President’s doorsteps multiple times with requests for mercy, and filed petitions in Supreme Court against their conviction. But all the petitions and requests were rejected.

Timeline of the case:

The four men, convicted for gang-raping a 23-year-old paramedic student in a moving bus in Delhi were hanged today. Their conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2017, and a Delhi court issued a black warrant – the fourth in the case – on March 5 this year.

Here is a timeline of the case:

December 16, 2012: Paramedical student gang-raped and brutally assaulted by six men in a private bus and thrown out of the moving vehicle along with her male friend. The victims admitted to Safdarjung Hospital.

December 17: Widespread protests erupt demanding stringent action against the accused. Police identify the accused – bus driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta.

December 18: Ram Singh and three others arrested.

December 20: Victim’s friend testifies.

December 21: Juvenile accused nabbed from Anand Vihar bus terminal in Delhi. Victim’s friend identifies Mukesh as one of the culprits. Police conduct raids in Haryana and Bihar to nab the sixth accused, Akshay Thakur.

December 21-22: Thakur arrested in Aurangabad district of Bihar and brought to Delhi. Victim records statement before the SDM in hospital.

December 25: Woman’s condition declared critical.

December 26: Following a cardiac arrest, victim flown to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital by the government.

December 29: Victim succumbs to internal injuries and other medical conditions. Police add murder charge in the FIR.

January 2, 2013: Then Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir inaugurates fast track court for speedy trial in sexual offence cases.

January 3: Police file chargesheet against five adults accused of murder, gang-rape, attempt to murder, kidnapping, unnatural offences and dacoity.

January 17: fast-track court starts proceedings against the five adult accused.

January 28: Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) says minority of juvenile accused is proved.

February 2: Court frames charges against five adult accused.

February 28: JJB frames charges against the minor.

March 11: One of the accused, Ram Singh, commits suicide in Tihar Jail.

March 22: Delhi high court allows national media to report trial court’s proceedings.

July 5: Trial in JJB against the juvenile in concludes, verdict reserved.

July 11: JJB holds minor also guilty of illegally confining and robbing a carpenter on December 16, night before allegedly taking part in the gang-rape.

August 22: Fast-track court begins hearing final arguments in trial against four adult accused.

August 31: JJB convicts the minor for gang-rape and murder and awards three-year term at probation home.

September 3: Fast-track court concludes trial. Reserves verdict.

September 10: Court convicts Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay, Pawan of 13 offences including gang-rape, unnatural offence and murder of the girl and attempt to murder her male friend.

September 13, 2013: Court awards death penalty to all four convicts.

September 23: Delhi high court begins hearing the convicts’ death sentence reference sent to it by the trial court.

January 3, 2014: High court reserves verdict on convicts’ appeals.

March 13: High Court upholds death penalty to the four convicts.

March 15: Supreme Court stays execution of two convicts, Mukesh and Pawan, after they file appeals. Later, stays execution of other convicts also.

February 3, 2017: Supreme Court says it would hear afresh the aspect of awarding death penalty to the convicts.

March 27: Supreme Court reserves verdict on their appeals.

May 5: Supreme Court upholds death penalty to four convicts, says the case falls under the category of ‘rarest of rare’.

November 8: Mukesh, one of the four death row convicts in the case, moves Supreme Court seeking review of its verdict upholding the capital punishment awarded to him.

December 15: Convicts Vinay Sharma and Pawan Kumar Gupta move Supreme Court for review of its verdict.

July 9, 2018: Supreme Court dismisses review petitions of three convicts.

February, 2019: Victim’s parents move Delhi court for issuance of death warrants of the four convicts

December 10, 2019: Convict Akshay Thakur moves plea in Supreme Court seeking review of his death penalty.

December 13: Victim’s mother moves Supreme Court opposing review plea of convict.

December 18: Supreme Court dismisses Akshay’s review plea. Delhi government seeks death warrants for execution of death sentence to the four convicts and directs Tihar authorities to issue notice to convicts to avail their remaining legal remedies.

December 19: Delhi High Court dismisses plea of Pawan Gupta claiming he was a juvenile at the time of the offence.

January 6, 2020: Delhi court dismisses complaint filed by Pawan’s father seeking FIR against sole witness.

January 7: Delhi court orders four convicts to be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail.

January 14: Supreme Court rejects curative petition of Vinay and Mukesh Kumar. Mukesh files mercy petition before President

January 17: President Ram Nath Kovind rejects mercy plea of Mukesh. Trial court issues death warrants again with execution date as February 1, 6 am.

January 25: Mukesh moves Supreme Court against rejection of mercy plea.

January 29: Convict Akshay Thakur approaches Supreme Court with curative petition. The top court rejects plea of Mukesh challenging rejection of his mercy plea.

January 30: Supreme Court dismisses curative plea of Akshay Kumar Singh.

January 31: Supreme Court dismisses plea filed by Pawan Gupta seeking review of its order rejecting his juvenility claim. Delhi court again postpones execution of the black warrants till further order.

February 1: Centre moves Delhi high court against the trial court order.

February 5: High court dismisses Centre’s plea against trial court order; says all four convicts have to be hanged together. It directs the convicts to pursue all legal remedies within a week, failing which the authorities ordered to take action in accordance with law.

February 17: Court issues fresh date for execution of death warrants for March 3 at 6 am.

March 2: The hanging of the four convicts, scheduled for March 3, deferred for the third time.

March 5: Fourth execution order passed for March 20.

March 20, 2020: The four convicts are hanged at 5:30 am.

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