If at all there is a case warranting death sentence, it is the December 16, 2012 gangrape-cum-murder case which “shocked the collective conscience of the society”, the lone woman judge in the Supreme Court, Justice R Banumathi, said today. The judge, who wrote a separate but concurring verdict upholding capital punishment to the four convicts, said if the dreadfulness of the men who raped and inserted iron rod in the victim’s private parts, does not fall in the ‘rarest of rare category’, then one may wonder what else will.
“The present case clearly comes within the category of ‘rarest of rare case’ where the question of any other punishment is unquestionably foreclosed. If at all there is a case warranting award of death sentence, it is the present case.
“If the dreadfulness displayed by accused in committing the gangrape, unnatural sex, insertion of iron rod in the private parts of the victim does not fall in the ‘rarest of rare category’, then one may wonder what else would fall in that category,” Justice Banumathi said.
“On these reasoning recorded by me, I concur with the majority in affirming the death sentence awarded to the accused persons,” the judge said in her separate and concurring 113-page judgement. She concurred with the findings and conclusions of Justices Dipak Misra and Ashok Bhushan.
Observing that the gruesome offences were committed with “highest viciousness”, Justice Banumathi noted that the cruel manner in which the convicts committed the crime and threw the victims naked on a cold winter nigh,t shocks the collective conscience of the society.
“Human lust was allowed to take such a demonic form. The accused may not be hardened criminals; but the cruel manner in which the gang-rape was committed in the moving bus; iron rods were inserted in the private parts of the victim; and the coldness with which both the victims were thrown naked in cold wintery night of December, shocks the collective conscience of the society,” the judge said.
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The judge observed that in such a situation when the crime is brutal and shocks the collective conscience of the community, sympathy in any form would be misplaced and it would shake the confidence of public in the administration of criminal justice system.
She said it was a case of brutal gang-rape and murder of a young lady, involving the most gruesome and barbaric act.
“The victim and her friend were picked up from Munirka bus stand with the malafide intent of ravishing and torturing her,” the judge observed, adding the diabolical manner in which the crime was committed “leaves one startled as to the pervert mental state of the inflictor.”
Elaborating on the aggravating circumstances, the judge said, “the brazenness and coldness with which the acts were committed in the evening hours by picking up the victims from a public space, reflects the threat to which the society would be posed to, in case the accused are not appropriately punished.”
Observing that there was no scope of reform, she said the horrific acts reflected the inhuman extent to which the accused could go to satisfy their lust, being completely oblivious, not only to the norms of the society, but also to the norms of humanity.
“Justice demands that the courts should impose punishment befitting the crime so that it reflects public abhorrence of the crime. Crimes like the one before us cannot be looked with magnanimity. Factors like young age of the accused and poor background cannot be said to be mitigating circumstances,” the judge said.
She further said that post-crime remorse and good conduct of the accused, their background and family circumstances, age, absence of criminal antecedents and their good conduct in prison cannot be taken as mitigating circumstances to take the case out of the category of ‘rarest of rare cases’.
“The circumstances stated by the accused in their affidavits are too slender to be treated as mitigating circumstances,” she said. Justice Banumathi also observed that the victim, who died at a hospital in Singapore, must have been pushed to deep emotional crisis.
“Rape deeply affects the entire psychology of a woman and humiliates her, apart from leaving her in a trauma. The testimony of the rape victim must be appreciated in the background of the entire case and the trauma which she had undergone,” the judge said.