Dec 16 gangrape: HC to start hearing on death sentence

Last Updated: Tue, Sep 24, 2013 07:40 hrs

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) The Delhi High Court will Wednesday begin day-to-day hearing on the death sentence awarded to four men convicted in Delhi's Dec 16 gangrape case.

A division bench of Justice Reva Khetrapal and Justice Pratibha Rani said the death reference in the Dec 16 case will be heard on daily basis from Wednesday, and in the meanwhile counsels of the four convicts would file their appeal against the death sentence awarded to them.

The bench also rejected the arguments of defence counsels seeking a week's adjournment, saying they "have to file appeal yet and time be given to them".

"We can start hearing death reference and in the meanwhile you (defence counsels) file appeal in the case. We don't know why you don't want to open the case? Let us start from hearing the background of the case, and state will start the case, then from next week, you can start," the bench said.

Rejecting the contentions of defence lawyers for adjournment, the bench said: "It will be in your interest if appeal comes early, otherwise sword will be hanging on their (convicts) head. Since this matter was going on day-to-day basis in the fast track court, we should hear it fast."

The trial court Sep 13 awarded the death sentence to Mukesh (26), Akshay Thakur (28), Pawan Gupta (19) and Vinay Sharma (20), convicted in the case, and referred the case to the high court for confirmation of their sentence.

Under the law the trial court has to refer each death penalty case to the high court for confirmation of the punishment.

Amid high security, the four convicts were presented before court and the bench recorded their appearance.

Outside and inside the courtroom, lawyers, court staff and common people gathered to catch a glimpse of all the four convicts. When they were brought outside the courtroom after the hearing, a crowd of women lawyers gathered outside spat on them.

Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna, who presided over a fast-track court that finished the trial in seven months, awarded death penalty to the four, saying their "hair-rising beastly and unparalleled behaviour" definitely qualified it as one of the "rarest of rare cases" that deserved death sentence.

The 23-year-old woman was brutally gangraped on a moving bus by six people, including a juvenile. The accused then threw her and her male companion out of the vehicle, without clothes, to die by roadside on on the cold December night.

The woman died of grave intestinal injuries Dec 29 at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital where she was airlifted for specialised treatment.

One of the six accused was found dead in a cell in Delhi's Tihar Jail while a juvenile involved in the crime was Aug 31 sent by the Juvenile Justice Board to a reform home for three years, the maximum term under the juvenile law.

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