NEW DELHI • India's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal against the release of the youngest convict in a fatal gang rape, sparking fury from the victim's parents, who called the ruling a betrayal of women.
Amid growing outrage at the freeing of the 20-year-old, judges said there were no legal grounds to allow a petition by the Delhi Commission for Women, which wanted to reverse his release from a youth correctional facility.
At a hearing presided over by justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, the court said yesterday "there is nothing in the law" to let them order him back behind bars and he could not be detained any longer.
The ruling was greeted with despair by the parents of the victim, 23-year-old Jyoti Singh, who has become the symbol of the plight of women in a country with frightening levels of sexual violence.
"There are no words to describe our disappointment," said Jyoti's father Badrinath Singh. "We don't understand all these laws. We only know that the system has failed us."
The convict, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was one of six who gang-raped the young student. As he was a juvenile at the time of the crime, he was sent to a correctional facility for a three-year term - the maximum under Indian law. Of the other five culprits, one committed suicide, while four were given the death penalty, though the sentence has yet to be carried out pending an appeal.
Meanwhile, in a separate case, an Indian court sentenced seven men to death yesterday after they were convicted of the rape and murder of a Nepalese woman suffering from mental illness, reports said.
The 28-year-old woman went missing on Feb 1 this year in Rohtak city in northern Haryana state, where she had been living with her sister while undergoing treatment at a hospital. An autopsy at the time had revealed that stones, blades and sticks were forced inside her during the attack. Her mutilated body was found in a field beside a highway three days later.
A minor accused in the case is reportedly being tried in a juvenile court, while a ninth suspect committed suicide soon after his arrest.