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Indian Court rejects Death Penalty Appeal in 2012 Gang-Rape Case

Asha Devi, center, mother of the victim of the fatal 2012 gang rape on a moving bus, leaves the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. India's Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the final appeal of one of the four men sentenced to death for the 2012 fatal gang rape of a woman on a moving bus in New Delhi, paving the way for the four to be hanged. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

New Delhi – The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the pending petition on Akshay Kumar, one of the four men sentenced to death over a rape case in 2012.

In 2012, a young woman was fatally gang-raped and beaten in a moving bus in the Indian capital and four men were apprehended and sentenced to death.

The court’s move paves the way for their likely execution but not before they exhaust the last legal options available to them, which legal experts say could take up to three weeks.

The slow process of India’s criminal justice system has led to growing frustration as cases of rape and murder continue to hit headlines.

Protestors in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar area shouted slogans and held up placards demanding justice for Nirbhaya (fearless), the name given to the December 2012 rape victim Jyoti Singh.

The men accused of the 23-year-old woman’s rape and murder were handed death sentences by the trial court in September 2013. It was upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2017.

After their review petitions were rejected, the convicts now have the last legal recourse of filing a curative petition in the Supreme Court.

If that petition is rejected, they can approach the president of India with a mercy petition to commute the death sentence.

Lawyer AP Singh, who represents Kumar, said “we will seek all possible legal recourse.

“There are other convicts on death row for a longer time. Why the hurry in this case? There is a lot of public pressure.’’

Soon after the Supreme Court dismissed the last review petition, a trial court in Delhi directed jail authorities to ask the convicts if they would be filing mercy petitions.

However, Singh’s family had approached the court asking it to speed up the executions.

The Delhi court asked the jail authorities to provide the responses of the convicts in writing on January 7.

Despite stricter laws and measures to increase the security of women since the Delhi gang rape, a high number of such crimes continue to be reported in India.

A couple of recent cases, one where a young woman was set on fire by men she accused of rape and later died.

Another gang-rape and murder of a young woman veterinarian in Hyderabad has brought the spotlight back on cases of sexual assault on women.

Amid growing public anger, the Supreme Court sought a status report from the federal and state governments on the speed of investigations, prosecutions, and other related issues for sexual offense cases. 

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