The men convicted of raping and torturing a medical student on a moving bus in Delhi in 2012 will hang, the Supreme Court ruled today, confirming its earlier decision and rejecting the request of three of four convicts for their sentence to be reduced to a life term.
The top court was asked to reconsider its own ruling in a review plea; the convicts are left with one more legal option of challenging their sentence before they appeal to the President for mercy.
"There is no new material to review our order," said three judges led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, on the review petition of Mukesh, 29, Pawan Gupta, 22 and Vinay Sharma, 23.
The fourth death row convict, Akshay Kumar Singh, 31, has not filed a review petition against the Supreme Court's judgement in May last year.
"People of our country have got justice. We hope the process is completed soon and the rapists get death, and society is safer for women," said the woman's mother, Asha Devi, on the court ruling that brings the convicts one step closer to execution.
A lawyer for the convicts, AP Singh, told reporters that "injustice" had been done to the convicted murderers - using the Hindi word for "boys" to describe them - and the court had caved to public and political pressure.
The Supreme Court had last year upheld the decisions of the Delhi High Court and the trial court sentencing the four men to death for raping the young woman, who died 16 days after the savage assault.
In its judgement, the Supreme Court had said that the "brutal, barbaric and diabolic nature" of the crime could create a "tsunami of shock" to destroy a civilised society.
The convicts appealed to the court to review their sentence, saying it was "cold-blooded killing in the name of Justice". The court agreed to hear their request in November last year.
The gang-rape of the 23-year-old student, who was returning home with a friend after watching "The Life of Pi" on December 16, 2012, provoked rage and shock across India and led to big changes to laws on sexual crimes against women.
Of the six accused, bus driver Ram Singh killed himself in his prison cell. The youngest accused, just days short of 18 when he committed the crime, was sent to a juvenile home, from where he was released after a three-year term.
The woman came to be known as "Nirbhaya" or fearless. Her parents have said that all the rapists should be hanged at the earliest, including the youngest.