India’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence in the 2012 New Delhi bus gang-rape case, a crime that sparked widespread protests leading to stronger anti-rape laws.
The country’s top court upheld its own judgement on the death sentence given against four men who had fatally gang raped a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, known as Nirbhaya, on a moving bus in New Delhi.
“There is no material to review our order,” said the three-judge bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, on the review petition filed by three of the four convicts – Mukesh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma – who had been handed the death penalty.
Badrinath Singh, the victim’s father, said his daughter has “finally got justice”.
“… It took the court one year to review the petitions. However, I am happy that my daughter has finally got justice,” Singh told reporters.
Of the six people arrested for this crime, one committed suicide in prison in 2013, while a juvenile defendant was sentenced to three years in a reform facility and released in 2015.
The brutal crime had sparked widespread protests and drew international attention over violence against women in India.
A fast-track court had convicted four defendants to death less than a year after the brutal gang rape and murder of the paramedic student. It was later upheld by the high court.
Rohan Mahajan, the lawyer representing the family of the gang-rape victim, said it was a “victorious moment”.
“Faith in the judiciary has been reinstated. We are satisfied today…” Mahajan told local ANI news agency.
In 2016, police in India registered 38,947 rape complaints compared to 2015, when nearly 35,000 rape cases were reported, according to National Crime Records Bureau data.
The number of rapes reported each year in Delhi has more than tripled over the past five years, registering an increase of 277 percent from 572 in 2011 to 2,155 in 2016, according to data released by the Delhi Police.
Senior Supreme Court lawyer, Vrinda Grover, said that she was “not at all convinced that it [the verdict] will be a deterrent this time around”.
“The death sentence had been confirmed by the Supreme Court sometime back and this was a review petition. What has happened between the confirmation of death sentence and now – there is no diminution of sexual violence against women,” Grower said.
“There is absolutely no link between death sentence and deterrence of crime. Hanging a few men will not change the manner in which women are affected by sexual violence in their daily lives. We will be distracted by this death sentence while this enables the state to abdicate its responsibility to protect women.”
Additional reporting by Al Jazeera’s Zeenat Saberin from New Delhi