December 16 gang-rape sentencing Friday, prosecution asks for death
New Delhi: A fast track court Wednesday reserved its order for Sep 13 on sentencing the four men convicted for gang-raping a 23-year-old woman on December 16, 2012, with the prosecution demanding the death penalty for the four accused.
The prosecution said it was the “rarest of rare” cases, while defence counsels pleaded for “mercy and reform”.
The four - Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur - were Tuesday found guilty on 13 counts, including gang rape, murder, attempt to murder and kidnapping.
The four were present in the court dressed in t-shirts and jeans and stood at the back of the courtroom no 304 of the District Court, Saket.
They showed no emotions throughout the argument, while the victim's parents sat in the second last row - close to the accused.
“We only need death for all the accused. They killed our daughter and now they don't deserve to live,” said the father of the victim.
The defence pleaded that the accused be shown mercy as they had no history of indulging in criminal activities, their families depend on them financially, they are young and should be given a chance to reform.
They also said the incident took place while they were under the influence of alcohol affecting their judgment among others.
After almost three hour-long arguments from both the sides, the Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna reserved the verdict for Friday.
Additional Public Prosecutor Dayan Krishnan, arguing for death penalty on the quantum of sentence told the court that this case falls under “rarest of rare” category and the crime they had committed shows “the highest kind of barbaric behaviour of the convicts.”
The prosecutor said the convicts should get maximum sentence and the court should see that they the four convicts have raped and killed a helpless woman, even as she pleaded for her life.
“This is the most heinous crime one can commit on someone. The injuries caused to the victim were inhuman,” he added.
“Her entire digestive system was ripped open as if you rip open a fruit,” the prosecutor said, referring to the wounds inflicted on the woman by the rod.
The prosecutor said the people of the country are watching this case and if the convicts are awarded a lighter punishment, “the public will lose faith in the judicial system”.
“Strong message should be sent to the society through this case,” Krishnan said, adding that heinous gang rape had instilled fear in the society especially in the minds of women and a judgment pronouncing death sentence could change that.
Police sought death penalty for the attackers, saying they only deserve "death sentence" for the brutal crime.
They added that the act of convicts to damage the intestines of victim was “intentional” and leaves “no scope of sympathy”.
“Two people are lured into a bus, robbed, beaten and the girl was raped, tortured in a closed enclosure... injuries unheard of in criminal cases are inflicted (on the woman),” argued Krishnan against the defense lawyer's plea of giving the four accused “chance to reform”.
“I don't think they stand a chance (to be given an opportunity reformation)… they don't carry any element of sympathy,” he added.
The defence counsels, however, sought leniency for the accused saying the crime was committed on the "spur of the moment and was not premeditated."
The court had held Tuesday that the crime was “premeditated” and was “cold blooded murder” of the “defenseless victim”. Advocate Vivek Sharma, who appeared for Pawan Gupta, 19, a fruit seller, pleaded for mercy, citing his young age.
“He is young and should be given one opportunity to reform,” he said. Krishnan, however, objected and said “they cannot reform. The act was premeditated and punishment should be awarded as per the gravity of offence not considering the age”.
He told the court that “while determining the sentence, it should be ensured what the role of each person was in the ghastly act… he (Gupta) was present there by chance and the incident happened on the spur of the moment.”
Advocate A.P. Singh, appearing for Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur, invoked Mahatma Gandhi in court saying: "God gives life and he alone can take it and not man-made courts."
He even said that Afzal Guru and Ajmal Kasab were given death sentence and that does not mean terror attacks have stopped in the country.
The lawyer further said that even in the Batla house encounter case, in which a police officer was kileld, the convict Shahzad was awarded life imprisonment, and questioned the prosecution demand for death penalty.
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