The Supreme Court Thursday released three men who had been given the death penalty for the 201 rape, torture and murder of a 19 year old woman. The Supreme Court, the prosecution “failed to prove its case” against the individuals, therefore they should be given “the benefit of the doubt.” The trail court found the three, Ravi Kumar, Rahul and Vinod guilty and gave them death sentences in 2014. The men were compared by the Delhi High Court to “predators” prowling the streets “searching for prey”, and the court upheld the death penalty.
The prosecution, however, failed to prove the charges against the three men “beyond a reasonable doubt,” according to a Supreme Court panel chaired by Chief Justice UU Lalit, and the jury functioned like a “passive umpire” in condemning them.
The Supreme Court stated, citing what it called “glaring breaches” in the trial, that the identification of the accused was not proven by the prosecution.
Ten of the 49 witnesses were not subjected to cross examination during the trial, the court noted.
“Cases should be decided by the courts strictly on the basis of the law. Courts shouldn’t be swayed by external moral demands or anything else, “declared the Supreme Court.
The other two judges on the panel were Justices Bela M. Trivedi and Ravindra Bhat.
The incident occurred months before a 23-year-old student was gangraped and killed by five men in Delhi, which resulted in widespread protests, widespread indignation, and significant reforms to the legislation on sexual offences.
Days after being abducted in February 2012, the young woman’s burned and dismembered body was discovered in a field in the Rewari region of Haryana. She was hit with vehicle tools and earthen pots, based on the severity of her wounds.
Investigations indicated that the woman had alcohol injected into her private areas and that acid had been thrown into her eyes.
The three requested a lesser punishment when they appealed the Delhi High Court decision to the Supreme Court.
The Delhi Police had argued against a death penalty reduction in the Supreme Court. They had claimed that in addition to the victim, society was also the target of the crime.
The defendants’ defence had argued that their sentence should be reduced based on their age, family history, and prior criminal record.
The girl’s parents expressed their “brokenness” at the Supreme Court ruling but stated that they will press on with their legal battle. “Justice is why we came here. This legal system is blind.”