A New Delhi court has upheld the death penalty imposed on the four men convicted of the brutal 2012 gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a bus. The men were sentenced in September by a lower court and had appealed, but the Delhi High Court agreed Thursday with the previous ruling, which called their case the "rarest of the rare" and said the crime warranted death. Many in India had called for the death penalty.
Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, and Pawan Gupta had been found guilty, along with a fifth member of the group who was a juvenile at the time of the incident and is serving a three-year sentence. A sixth man involved was found dead in his cell before being tried. A.P Singh, the lawyer who represented the four men, said they would appeal the recent decision in Supreme Court and they had been "falsely implicated," according to reporting by the Associated Press.
The 23-year-old medical student was attacked on a moving bus in December 2012. As Bustle reported:
The woman, a physiotherapy student, boarded a private bus that a group of men, who the police said had been drinking, were also riding. She was on her way home from a movie with a male friend, and the men assaulted both, knocking the man unconscious and raping the woman in the back of the bus, sometimes using a metal rod. The two were dumped from the bus, naked and bleeding, and the woman died two weeks after from her injuries.
Her parents, who had also called for the death penalty, were in court Thursday during the ruling. "We are very happy. This verdict will affect many other cases," her father said, according to NDTV India.
After the victim's tragic death, protests and demonstrations called for stricter laws protecting women. The backlash prompted the Indian government to revise legislation to increase prison terms for rapists, and impose harsher punishment for those carrying out acid attacks.