New Delhi, Feb 23: Fast track courts (FTCs) in sexual assault cases in the capital are not showing any mercy to rape-murder convicts. In four verdicts delivered so far in heinous rape-murder cases, all the nine convicts were sentenced to death. They included the four men convicted in the Dec 16, 2012, gang-rape.
Six FTCs were set up last January following the Dec 16, 2012, gang-rape that ignited a country-wide debate on the safety of women and the need for an effective legal process to handle rape cases.
The latest verdict was handed down on Feb 19 in the brutal rape and murder of a 19-year-old. The court sentenced three youths to death for the abduction, rape and murder of the young woman, whose mutilated and decomposed body was found in a Haryana village in 2012.
In November last year, a special court awarded the death penalty to a 23-year-old man for the brutal murder of his seven-year-old neighbour.
Before that, on Sep 13, 2013, the four convicts in the Dec 16 gang rape case were given the death penalty.
The first death penalty awarded was in January 2013, days after the FTC was set up. A 60-year-old guard was given the death penalty for the gruesome rape and murder of the three-year-old daughter of a rickshaw puller.
Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Yogesh Khanna handed down the death penalty in the Dec 16 case. ASJ Virender Bhat handed down the other three verdicts.
While handing down the death penalty in the rape-murder of the 19-year-old, ASJ Bhat said: “The perpetrators of crime like rape and murder forfeit their right to live. Life imprisonment is highly inadequate in these cases and there is no alternative but to impose the death sentence.”
The crime was a particularly gruesome one in which the three convicts had abducted the young woman Feb 9, 2012, while she was returning from her office to her Qutub Vihar house in south Delhi. Her body was found after four days in a field in Rodhai village in Haryana’s Rewari district – bearing multiple wounds on her head and other parts of the body.
Police said the main accused, Ravi Kumar, committed the crime with the help of two friends as he wanted to take revenge on her for refusing his overtures of friendship. The three used a car jack and an earthen pot to kill the woman.
The father of the Dec 16 gang-rape victim expressed satisfaction over the verdict handed down. “Such verdicts will send a strong message to society that rapists cannot be let free after committing gruesome crimes,” he told IANS.
“Justice has been done and such verdicts will be a lesson for rapists.”
The death penalty awarded in the Dec 16 case was welcomed by large sections of society who were outraged at the heinousness of the crime. The 23-year-old paramedical trainee was raped by six males, including a juvenile, on a moving bus. She died two weeks later of the grievous injuries.
Bhat, while handing down the death penalty last November to a 23-year-old man for the brutal rape-murder of a seven-year-old neighbour, said that such convicts are a “menace to society and do not deserve to be alive”.
The judge held that the crime committed by Bharat Kumar falls in the category of rarest of rare. In 2010, Kumar had lured the girl with snacks and chocolate and taken her to a secluded field in Palam village where he raped and killed her, smashing her face with a heavy object.
ASJ Bhat, while handing down the verdict in the case of a 60-year-old guard, said he deserved death for the rape and murder of a three-year-old as the child was subjected to the convict’s “lust” in such a “ghastly” manner that she died on the spot.
Delhi-based lawyer Shilpi Jain told IANS: “Such verdicts will send a strong message to society that rape will not be tolerated in any case.”
(Amiya Kumar Kushwaha can be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org)