Indian Supreme Court dismisses appeal against death penalty in grisly 2012 gang-rape and murder

A signboard is seen outside the premises of Supreme Court in New Delhi, September 28, 2018. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – THe Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed an appeal against the death penalty by one of four men convicted of the gang-rape of a woman on a bus in New Delhi and her murder, saying it found no reason to review the sentence.

The four were convicted in 2013 of the rape, torture and murder of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student in New Delhi in 2012, an attack that triggered shockwaves across the world.

The woman died of her injuries in hospital in Singapore.

The case prompted India to enact tough new laws against sexual violence, including the death penalty for rape in some cases, but implementation has been poor and the attacks have shown no signs of let-up.

A woman is raped every 20 minutes in India on average, according to government data.

“It is still is very difficult for women to have cases registered with the police,” said Bulbul Das, a women rights expert and lawyer based in New Delhi. “The inquiry procedures are very poor. Very little is being done for women’s safety in the first place.”

The victim in the 2012 case came from a lower-middle class family and worked in a call centre while she studied.

Her mother told reporters outside the court that she welcomed the ruling and hoped all four men would be executed soon.

“This is one step closer to justice,” she said.

In another high-profile case that fuelled public anger, a court on Monday found Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a lawmaker formerly with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, guilty of raping a teenager in 2017. Sengar had pleaded not guilty, and his family said they plan to appeal.

India has been rocked by two other recent cases: the killing of a young woman in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh allegedly by two men she had accused of having raped her, and the murder of a 27-year-old vet in India’s IT hub of Hyderabad, who police said was abducted, raped and asphyxiated and her body set ablaze.

Last year, the court dismissed sentence review pleas filed by the three other defendants in the 2012 case. A fifth allegedly committed suicide in jail in 2013, and a sixth, a juvenile, was convicted and released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term in 2016.

A.P. Singh, the lawyer for the defendant whose appeal was dismissed on Wednesday, said he would appeal again. He has the option to file a mercy plea with the president.

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