Supreme Court acquits rapist-killers called "predators" by high court
Supreme Court (SC) on Monday acquitted three men who were convicted of raping and killing a 19-year-old woman in Delhi's Chhawala area in 2012. The Delhi High Court had described the "rapist-killers," while announcing the death penalty to them in 2014, as "predators hunting down the streets for prey." The incident happened months before the sensational Nirbhaya gang rape and murder.
Why does this story matter?
- Amid allegations by the family of the victim that convicts would threaten them in the courtroom, the top court's judgment, as per them, has faded their 12 years of struggle for justice.
- The judgment comes nearly a month after the government okayed the release of 11 men convicted of gang-raping Bilkis Bano and murdering seven members of her family during the 2002 Gujarat riots.
What happened in Chhawala area in 2012
In February 2012, days after the 19-year-old was kidnapped, her mutilated body with deep wounds was spotted in the fields of Delhi's adjoining Rewari district of Haryana. Following this, a police complaint was registered at Delhi's Najafgarh police station to start the investigation. Two years later, in February 2014, a Delhi court convicted Ravi Kumar, Rahul, and Vinod and sentenced them to death.
Convicted moved to Delhi High Court
Following the death sentence by a Delhi court after being charged with kidnapping, rape and murder, the case was moved to Delhi High Court. Delhi's top court in the same year on August 26, 2014, after hearing the case maintained the lower court's judgment. The court described the trio as "predators trawling the streets for prey."
'All three would be freed'
The convicts challenged the High Court's judgment and moved to Supreme Court, which freed them. Chief Justice of India, UU Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi comprised the ruling bench. Delhi Police have objected to reducing the death sentence but defense counsel on behalf of convicts cited past criminal records and family backgrounds to press for a reduction in sentence.
'We are broken' say parents of victim
NDTV has reported that following the judgment, parents of the 19-year-old victim have termed the judgment as a "blow to their 10 years of struggle for justice." "We are broken by the judgment but would continue the legal fight. We came here for justice. This is a blind justice system," they were quoted as saying by NDTV.
31,000 rapes reported in India last year
Reported rape cases in India are witnessing an uptick as 2021 recorded 31,000 cases across India, as per data by Statista. In 2020, the country recorded 28,000 reported rape cases. As per the data, there has been over a 72% increase in rape cases in 2021 in comparison with 2005, when Statista started tracking data. In 2005, 18,359 cases were recorded.