NEW DELHI - India's Supreme Court has dismissed a petition seeking to overturn the death penalty handed out to three men convicted of the 2012 gang rape and murder of a physiotherapy student. The horrific crime sent shock waves through the nation and turned the spotlight on violence against women in India.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court said Monday there were no grounds for a review of an order delivered last year in which it upheld the death sentence.
The victim's parents hailed the top court's order calling it "justice for all" and said it reaffirmed their trust in the legal system. Their 23-year-old daughter had been thrown on the road after being brutally raped on a moving bus and died two weeks later of the severe injuries she sustained.
The victim's mother, Asha Devi, said she wanted justice for all rape victims in the country." All rapists must be hanged. No mercy should be shown to them by our judicial system. The entire country should get justice."
Out of the six jailed for the crime, one man was found dead in prison before a verdict was delivered and a juvenile was released in 2015 after serving a three-year term. Three of the four men who are in jail had pleaded to be spared the death sentence. The fourth death row convict is expected to file a plea for clemency in the coming weeks.
Welcoming the ruling, India's Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, asserted that tougher laws are proving to be a deterrent. She said that between the courts and the government, "we mean business."
India, however, continues to grapple with cases of violence against women and young children that continue to be reported from both crowded cities and remote villages.
Earlier this year protests, reminiscent of those that shook the country in 2012, erupted over the rape and death of an eight-year-girl who was drugged and gang raped in Jammu and Kashmir by eight men.
The crime prompted the government to bring in even more stringent punishment through an temporary ordinance that has introduced the death penalty for convicted rapists of children under the age of 12 and enhances prison terms for the rape of a girl below 16.
Lawyers and women activists have repeatedly maintained the key to stemming the rising tide of violence against women is not tightening laws, but improving police investigation and implementing existing laws in a country with a slow-moving justice system.