India shocked as men sentenced to death for rape freed

India shocked as men sentenced to death for rape freed

Posted 3 months ago in News and Politics.

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Ten years ago when a 19-year-old Delhi woman was found gang raped and murdered in the fields of the neighbouring state of Haryana, it was described as a "rarest of rare" case.

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Indians were shocked by news reports which detailed the brutality to which the teenager - named Anamika in court documents as her real name could not be revealed under Indian law - had been subjected.

Three men, arrested for the crime, were found guilty and given the death penalty by a trial court in 2014 and the Delhi High Court confirmed the sentences a few months later.

But on Monday, in a stunning reversal, the Indian Supreme Court set the men free, saying there was no "cogent, clinching and clear evidence" that they had committed the crime.

The three-judge bench raised serious questions about the police investigation, criticised the sessions court for "glaring lapses" in the trial and said the judge had acted like a "passive umpire".

The decision has angered the victim's parents, shocked activists and lawyers and led to outrage on social media in a country where tens of thousands of rapes are reported every year.

"This is what justice looks like in India 2022," one Twitter user wrote, sharing a photo of the woman's dejected father.

Some compared the top court's decision with a recent order by the Gujarat state government to release convicts who were serving life sentences for the gang rape of Bilkis Bano, a pregnant Muslim woman, and the murder of her relatives during 2002 religious riots in Gujarat state.

Anamika's father told me that his "hopes of getting justice were dashed in minutes".

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