NEW DELHI • India's Supreme Court yesterday rejected pleas to review the death sentences of three assailants in the notorious gang-rape and murder of a young college student that shook the country in 2012, bringing them one step closer to execution.
Three of the six assailants - Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma, all in their 20s - had asked the court to consider commuting their death sentence to life imprisonment.
The convicts have not yet exhausted all legal options - they can still seek a curative petition from the court for example - so the process may drag out for years.
The fourth assailant has not yet filed a review plea. A fifth man, the suspected ringleader, was found dead in jail in a suspected suicide, while a 17-year-old was sentenced to three years in a detention centre and has since been released.
In May last year, India's highest court, the Supreme Court, upheld the 2013 death penalty verdicts for four of the six assailants, saying they did not deserve leniency due to their "brutal, barbaric and diabolical" conduct.
A lawyer for the men, Mr A.P. Singh, said after yesterday's ruling that "injustice" had been done to the murderers.
"Justice should be for everyone. Injustice has been meted out to them. The court has taken a decision against these 'kids' under political and media pressure," Mr Singh told reporters.
I want that as soon as possible they are hanged to death. There's no word to describe what I'm going through. It is very difficult. First lose your child and then go through all this. Even after today, they can still appeal further, so we don't know how long we will have to fight.
MS ASHA DEVI, the victim's mother, on how the case could drag out.
The young woman's parents, Ms Asha Devi and Mr Badrinath Singh, applauded the court's decision, but said that they have been waiting too long for a resolution.
"I want that as soon as possible they are hanged to death," Ms Devi said. "There's no word to describe what I'm going through. It is very difficult. First lose your child and then go through all this. Even after today, they can still appeal further, so we don't know how long we will have to fight."
The 23-year-old woman, on course to be the first professional in the family, was on her way home from the cinema with a male friend when they were attacked. The six-strong gang beat the man unconscious before raping and torturing her with an iron bar as the private bus they were on drove loops through the Indian capital.
She was dumped on the streets after 45 minutes with horrific internal injuries, and died 13 days later in a Singapore hospital.
The brutality of the attack, and her determination to survive long enough to identify her attackers to police, triggered angry demonstrations by tens of thousands of people in Delhi and nationwide.
The case also put the treatment of women in the world's largest democracy in the global spotlight and led to heavier sentences for sex crimes.
WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE