Why did the Supreme Court acquit 3 rape-torture-murder convicts?
New Delhi: The Supreme Court yesterday acquitted three people who were sentenced to death in the case of raping, torturing and killing a 19-year-old woman in 2012. The apex court said the plaintiffs had “failed to prove their case”, giving them the “benefit of doubt”.
Ravikumar, Rahul and Vinod were hanged by the trial court in 2014. The Delhi High Court upheld the death sentence, likening the men to “hunting prey” dragged through the streets by “predators”.
But a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice UU Lalit said the prosecution had failed to prove the charges against the three “beyond reasonable doubt” and the court had acted as a “passive arbiter” while convicting them.
The Supreme Court held that the prosecution had not established the identity of the accused.
The court pointed out that 10 of the 49 witnesses were not cross-examined in the trial.
“Courts must decide cases strictly on merits as per law. Courts should not be swayed by any external moral pressure or other influence,” the Supreme Court said.
Justice Ravindra Bhatt and Justice Bela M Trivedi were the other two judges on the bench.
The gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a Delhi bus by five men sparked nationwide protests, global outrage and sweeping changes to sex-offense laws.
In February 2012, the young woman’s mutilated and burnt body was found in a field in Haryana’s Rewari district, days after her abduction. Severe injuries suggest she was hit with car tools and pots.
Investigation revealed that acid was poured into the woman’s eyes and liquor bottles were inserted into her private parts.
Challenging the judgment of the Delhi High Court, the trio filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking commutation of their sentences.
The Delhi Police moved the Supreme Court to reduce the death penalty. They have said that crime is not only against the victim but also against society.