Nitya Shukla, 2nd year, ICFAI University,Dehradun
Name of the case: Mukesh & Another vs State for NCT of Delhi
Citation: (2017) 6 Supreme Court Cases 1: (2017) 2 Supreme Court Cases (Cri) 673: 2017 SCC Online SC 533
Court: Hon’ble Supreme Court of India
Date of Judgment: 5 MAY 2017
Parties Involved: Appellant: Mukesh & Anr
Respondent: State for NCT of Delhi & Ors.
Bench: Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan
Facts of the case
The victims, a 23-year-old woman, Jyoti Singh, and her male friend, were returning home on the night of 16 December 2012 after watching the film Life of Pi in Saket, South Delhi.
They boarded the bus at Munirka for Dwarka at around 9:30 pm (IST). There were just six others on the bus, including the driver. One of the men, recognized as a minor, had called for travellers letting them know that the bus was going towards their destination.
Her friend became suspicious when the bus deviated from its normal route and its doors were shut. When he objected, the group of six men currently ready, including the driver, provoked the couple, asking what they were doing alone at such a late hour
The friend, when he tried to protect Nirbhaya, was beaten by the culprits. During the arguments, a fight followed between her friend and the group of men. He was beaten, gagged, and knocked unconscious with an iron rod. The men then dragged Jyoti to the rear of the bus, beating her with the rod and raping her while the bus driver continued to drive.
Nirbhaya was not just sexually violated, her body was mutilated past human imagination. A medical report later said that she experienced serious wounds to her abdomen, intestines, and genitals due to the assault, and doctors said that the damage indicated that a blunt object (suspected to be the iron rod) may have been used for penetration. That bar was later described by police being a rusted, L-shaped implement of the type used as a wheel jack handle. She later died of multiple organ failure, internal bleeding, and cardiac arrest on the 29th of December.
The learned counsel showing up for the criminals applied for a Review Petition in the Supreme Court under Article 137. Such a review petition can be filed in a Supreme Court when either of the parties is aggrieved by a request passed by the court because of some error of facts of the case.
The counsel then moved for a Curative Petition. The idea of raising a curative petition is for requesting any relief for the aggrieved person even after the final judgment has been passed. but the Supreme Court considering the welfare of the country, to stop such crimes later on and to stop the flow of judiciary through a wrong path of injustice while administering such cases in the future, rejected the plea.
The last move made by them was the Mercy Petition. A mercy petition can be filed before the President of India.
The counsel presented that there is enough evidence at hand to penalize all convicts.
The crime was pre-mediated and falls under the category of ‘rarest of the rare cases.’ The convicts had convinced the prosecutrix and her friend to get inside the empty bus with a wrongful intention.
The prosecutor demanded capital punishment for all convicts and argued that ‘no mercy should be shown to these merciless.’ The death penalty would be as deterrent as crime against women is growing day by day. The convicts showed no mercy to the victim and the same should be done to them.
Ultimately, crime carried out is against the general public as whole hence, the death sentence is demanded.
Whether Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code covers the crime of rape entirely or not?
Whether the convicts of such crimes should be given the death penalty or not?
Whether a juvenile committing such heinous crimes should be given punishment equivalent to an adult?
Whether public outrage on any gruesome occurrence can become a criterion for determining punishment in a case?
A three-judge bench agreed that the act done by the accused did not deserve any sympathy.
In a strong message, that the merciless crime had stunned the shared mindset of the society, and that the court can regard it as a rarest of rare cases where death penalties can be granted. DNA ID, fingerprints, witness declarations, and odontology proved the presence of the accused on the bus and their contribution to the crime, as said by the Supreme Court.
The casual manner with which she was treated and the devilish manner in which they played with her body, her identity, and her dignity is humanly unthinkable, said the bench.
The Supreme Court administered justice to the family of the victim and all the women in the country by confirming the punishment of capital punishment to the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case, naming it as the rarest of rare, most merciless, and primitive assault on the 23-year-old paramedic student, Jyoti Singh. The convicts treated the victim as an object of enjoyment and exploited her sexually to the worst level.
A three-judge bench, through a unanimous verdict, upheld the Delhi High Court judgment that had agreed with the trial court decision of the case. Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay Sharma, and Akshay Kumar Singh were hanged to death for the mercilessness they had displayed against a lady of the country. The bench awarded them the death sentence because their crime met the rarest-of-rare threshold. After the incident, the fifth accused was not tried and he was sent to a correction home for three years because he was a minor at that time.
In the present case, aggravating circumstances outnumbered mitigating factors. In ‘rarest of rare cases,’ where any alternative sentence is ‘unquestionably foreclosed’, capital punishment should be declared. Here, horrible abuses of human dignity have surfaced, and an implicit feeling of uneasiness had gripped the society. Human desire was never permitted to take such an evil structure and thus capital punishment is certainly conceded.
Supreme Court upheld Delhi HC and Trial Court’s decision to grant death to the remaining four convicts. ram Singh, the fifth accused committed suicide while the 6th one being a minor was granted a long-term in-correction facility by Juvenile Justice Board. He was released in 2015. The Apex court in judgment laid down that the intention to run the bus over the prosecutrix after committing such a heinous crime indicated that every possible attempt was made to erase the evidence.
The court depended on the case of Purushottam Dashrath Borate and Anr. vs State of Maharashtra, where it was held that the age of the accused and his family background can’t be considered as mitigating conditions.
Analysis of the objective in this case study
Reforms in rape laws after Nirbhaya case
Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013
The Criminal Amendment Act, 2013 is also popularly referred to as the Anti-rape Act.
Under this change, new offenses such as stalking, acid attacks, and voyeurism were added to the definition of rape
Even the threat of rape is now a crime and the person will be punished for the same.
The minimum sentence was changed from seven years to ten years considering the increase in the number of rape cases.
In cases that led to the death of the victim or the victim being in a vegetative state, the minimum sentence was increased to 20 years.
The character of the victim was totally irrelevant to rape cases and it doesn’t make any difference in granting punishment for the crime.
Since one of the accused in this situation was a juvenile, one more defect in the system was distinguished after this case. In this way, the age for being tried as a grown-up for vicious crimes like rape was changed from 18 to 16 years, that to the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
There was also the inclusion of registering complaints and medical examinations. The report categorically mentioned Any officer, who fails to register a case of rape reported to him, or attempts to abort its investigation, commits an offense that shall be punishable as prescribed.
The committee gave extensive recommendations regarding avoiding marital rape as well as rapes committed via the commission of void marriages.