Seven years, three months and four days after the gruesome rape and murder of Nirbhaya, all four convicts -- Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma, and Akshay Kumar Singh -- were hanged till death at 5.30 am today (Friday, March 20, 2020) in Tihar Jail by Meerut hangman Pawan Jallad. The hanging brings an end to a long-drawn court process that dragged for years. The execution of the four convicts comes after the Delhi High Court and then the Supreme Court of India rejected the late-night petition challenging the execution.
Going down the memory lane: A timeline of Nirbhaya saga that shook India
It was December 16, 2012, when a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, later known as Nirbhaya, was gang-raped by six men on a moving bus. Her male friend was also assaulted following which both of them were thrown on the road. Thirteen days later, Nirbhaya succumbed to her injuries. Soon, gruesome details began to emerge. It was found that the attackers inserted rod inside her private parts and ripped her intestines apart. The brutality of the crime sent shockwaves across the nation, leading to widespread protests and a drastic change in the country's rape laws.
As the case drew large-scale attention, the Delhi Police arrested all the convicts, including a juvenile, within a few days of the incident. The case of the minor accused was transferred to the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB).
On January 3, a chargesheet was filed against the five adults -- Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay, Pawan and Ram Singh -- for murder, attempt to murder, gang-rape, kidnapping, unnatural offences and dacoity. This came a day after a fast-track court (FTC) was set up for sexual offence cases.
On March 11, accused Ram Singh allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in Tihar Jail. Five months later, on August 31, 2013, the JJB convicted the minor for gang-rape and murder and sent him to a three-year term at a probation home.
Ten days pursuant to that, a trial court convicted four others of 'grave offences', including gang-rape, unnatural offence and murder of the girl and attempt to murder her male friend. On September 13, the court awarded death penalty to all the four convicts.
The convicts then knocked on the doors of the Delhi High Court challenging the order of the trial court. However, the court on March 13, 2014 gave them no relief and upheld the order of the lower court.
On May 5, 2017, they moved the Supreme Court, but a bench headed by Justice Dipak Mishra upheld the death penalty awarded to them.
The apex court observed that the offence created a "Tsunami of shock" and fell under the category of "rarest of rare".
The convicts then availed the legal and constitutional remedies of review -- curative and mercy petitions -- slowly and steadily over the span of three years. Their execution got deferred thrice this year due to the pending remedies, but eventually they were all rejected.
Pawan Gupta was the last convict to exhaust all his remedies on March 4, following which the court issued a death warrant against all the four convicts. But this did not end here.
On March 19, even a day before hanging, late-night hearings were forced in Delhi High Court and then the Supreme Court. However, that didn't help the convicts as both the courts dismissed the petitions.