Supreme Court’s Order To Free 3 Rape-Murder Convicts


The three had challenged the Delhi High Court ruling in Supreme Court

New Delhi:

Three men sentenced to death for the rape, torture and killing of a 19-year-old woman in 2012 were freed by the Supreme Court yesterday. The prosecution “failed to prove their case” against the men, the Supreme Court said, giving them “the benefit of the doubt”.

The three, Ravi Kumar, Rahul and Vinod, were held guilty and sentenced to death by the trial court in 2014. The Delhi High Court upheld the death sentence, likening the men to “predators” trawling the streets “hunting for prey”.

But a Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice UU Lalit said the prosecution failed to prove the charges against the three men “beyond reasonable doubt” and the court acted like a “passive umpire” while convicting them.

The identity of the accused was not established by the prosecution, the Supreme Court said, pointing to what it called “glaring lapses” in the trial.

Of 49 witnesses, 10 were not cross examined in the trial, the court pointed out.

“Courts should strictly decide cases on merits in accordance with law. Courts should not be influenced by any kind of outside moral pressures or otherwise,” the Supreme Court said.

Justice Ravindra Bhat and Justice Bela M Trivedi were the two other judges on the bench.

The incident took place months before the gangrape and killing of a 23-year-old student by five men on a moving bus in Delhi, which triggered nationwide protests, worldwide outrage and sweeping changes to the laws on sexual crimes.

In February 2012, the young woman’s mutilated and burnt body was found in a field in Haryana’s Rewari district, days after she was kidnapped. Severe wounds suggested that she was hit with car tools and earthen pots.

It was revealed during investigations that acid was poured in the woman’s eyes and a bottle of liquor was inserted in her private parts.

The three challenged the Delhi High Court ruling in Supreme Court, asking that their sentence be reduced.

In the Supreme Court, the Delhi Police had opposed reducing the death sentence. They had said the crime was committed not only against the victim, but also against society.

The convicts’ defense had cited their age, family background and past criminal record to argue that their sentence should be reduced.

Following the Supreme Court verdict, the parents of the girl said they were “broken” by the judgment but asserted that they would continue their legal fight. “We came here for justice. This is a blind justice system.”


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