Author- Aditya Sharma

5th year Law student of Chandigarh University


Crimes have been prevailing for past decades in India and to put a stop to the crimes there is a lot of pressure on the judiciary and the administration of justice. There are a lot of changes that have been made in the provisions of the Indian Penal Code or CrPC to make laws stricter and retain public confidence at large. In a developing country like India, it is very important to make the laws to meet the end of justice timely and to gain public confidence. Earlier in India, there were no such stricter laws that had a fear in the minds of criminals, which means earlier the temperament to penalize the criminals was less as compared to today’s scenario. In today’s time, India has better effective penal laws and strict jail systems that provide justice to people of India, but there are some loopholes to be filled with time that create a heavy burden on the judiciary and lead to delay in justice. The reasons could be red-tapism, bureaucracy, etc. In 2012 there was a brutal gang rape case that came in front of the people of India. That heinous crime disturbed the morality of India as well as the judicial system. The victim of that rape incident was Jyoti Singh (Nirbhaya) who was traveling on the bus that night when this incident took place in Delhi. That was the turning point in the provisions in the penal laws on sexual violence, a great initiative by the Indian government to make laws stricter. This case changed from a media issue to societal activism. There is a patriarchal society that hides the identity of the victim and does not report the case due to harassment or shame but as India is a developing country mindset have been changed in the minds of people so people from past years came forward to help the rape victims and motivate the victims to file the complaint as soon as possible. This case where 4 accused were hanged to death in Delhi in the heinous rape crime case made a significant landmark case in the history of India and set a strong example and showed the pervasiveness of rape culture in India which was prevailing from time and the current scenario in the country. This rape case is considered one of the heinous cases in the history of India that not only exposed the socio-cultural masculinity but also forced the judicial system to make stricter laws for securing rape justice. In 2013 as the criminal law (amendment) also known as the Nirbhaya Act with the recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee with the help of the Indian legislature this amendment could be possible, this act came out a few months after this case. As per the latest report, it shows the crimes against women have lowered due to these laws which have an impact on the minds of people. As per the national crime bureau, the ratio of crime be it violence against crime or cruelty has decreased due to the act (2013 amendment). Victim blaming was prevalent in past years due to the humiliation victims did not report the case to the police with the stigma of women being continuously blamed for dressing and behaving that encouraged rape. But with time the attitude of people towards rape and rape victims has changed that led to more sympathy toward victims or survivors of the rape case.


On the cold night of December 16, 2012, this tragic heinous crime took place, where Nirbhaya and her friend had gone to watch “Life of Pi”. While returning home they got on a bus from Munirka bus stand where six including the driver were present in the bus. The bus did not follow the fixed path where the bus was intended to go instead it deviated its path and the other 5 men switched off the bus lights and covered the bus windows with black curtains. After this, her friend found this little suspicious raised an objection to drop them here and relieve them, he was yelled down the men started beating him badly with an iron rod on raising further opposition. While other men took the girl to the back of the bus the girl was resisting despite this, they took her clothes off and all of them performed gang rape one by one and she was also subjected to unnatural sex. As she was trying to fight back to this crime one man inserted an iron rod in her private part and pulled her intestines apart due to that her kidneys got damaged. As this crime was going on the driver was driving the bus all over Delhi and was not stopping the bus. Later than they were thrown out of the bus and left to die in the middle of the road. A pedestrian found them naked lying on the road and blood all over the road immediately he called the police. The police took them to Safdarjung hospital for treatment, where doctors were shocked to see the condition of the girl, the girl’s intestines were lying out of the vagina and had several blood clots. Several surgeries were performed by the doctors but she succumbed to these injuries on December 29, 2012. This tragedy led to several protests all over the country and broke the public sentiment from the judiciary. It also led to some amendments in criminal law in Indian legislation with respect to sexual violence against women. The police filed the charge sheet against the accused. Out of the other 5 accused, 1 accused named Ram Singh committed suicide in high-security Tihar jail. One accused was a juvenile aged 16-and-a-half-year-old he was charged with sections as per the juvenile justice act meanwhile the other adult accused were charged with several charges along with the offense of murder. The juvenile was sentenced to 3 years in a probation home. Then the case was forwarded to the fast-track court where they were announced the death sentence. The high court upheld the judgment of the lower court. The accused moved to the supreme court where they have a chance of being heard unbiasedly in the supreme court. After their review petition was canceled by the supreme court then one of the accused Vinay Singh filed a mercy petition in the court which was too rejected. Then one of the accused also filed a mercy petition before the president of India which was also rejected by the president.


RAM SINGH: He was the driver of the bus where the incident took place and the main culprit in this heinous case as he actively participated in this gang rape. He was arrested soon after the incident and was sentenced to death as he also destructed the evidence in his brother’s house from which police recovered. But on March 11, 2013, he committed suicide in high-security jail – Tihar jail Delhi, he did not face the final judgment of the judiciary as other accused faced.

MUKESH SINGH: He is Ram Singh’s brother who actively participated in this gang rape and sexual violence case. He was also convicted and sentenced to death as other adult accused, he filed review petitions several times including in supreme court and a mercy petition to the president of India but his petition got rejected every time. He was executed on March 20, 2020.

VINAY SHARMA: He is one of the assailants who assaulted the victims and the friend on the moving bus, he was quickly arrested by the police and was produced before the competent authority, he was found guilty and was convicted and sentenced to death eventually he was executed on March 20, 2020.

AKSHAY THAKUR: He actively participated in the sexual violence and gang rape of the victim, he was immediately arrested by the police along with other accused then he was also convicted and sentenced to death. His appeals and petitions got rejected and he was executed on March 20, 2020.

PAWAN GUPTA: He took part in gang rape and assault, he was arrested immediately by the police and tried and convicted and sentenced to death by the court his all appeals and petitions got rejected by the court was also executed on March 20, 2020.

MINOR (Juvenile): The juvenile who was aged approximately 17 he was sentenced to 3 years in a probation home, the maximum penalty as per the law at that time of minor. He was released from that probation home in December 2015 his release led to several amendments in the juvenile justice act allowing for minors aged 16-18 to be tried as adults in court for serious heinous cases.


This Nirbhaya case led to many consequences like a new criminal bill in the form of amendments and amendments in the juvenile justice act. It also had some amendments in the Indian Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code. The definition of rape got introduced after this case it got broadened to non-penetrative sexual assault and acts which include insertion of objects in the private parts of a woman’s vagina, urethra, or anus. The term of punishment got increased for offenses like rape and sexual violence and acid attacks with strict punishments. New offenses along with their punishments were introduced in IPC (Indian penal code) like stalking, voyeurism, and acid attacks. Special fast track courts were set up to try these kinds of heinous cases and ensure fast timely justice to the victims of the incident. The legislation also protected the interest of the victim along with protection granted to victims including setting up funds for the victim or for the survivors of the assault.

This case acted as a landmark showcase for societal change in India, along with it brought issues like women’s safety who deal with sexual violence, rape, or assault. Widespread protest brought to the minds of people a sense of responsibility towards women’s safety and several reforms were introduced to protect women’s rights and safety. Numerous non-governmental organizations, activists, and women’s safety groups came forward with their efforts to bring change in the administration of justice with women’s safety in mind. Educational institutions also began implementing measures for a safer workplace for women.


Implementation of the new penal laws as well as the new provisions introduced in criminal law was the foremost duty of the judiciary to get it done right. This process required training and sensitization of law enforcement personnel of the judiciary. 

The patriarchal society persisted in India with gender-biased thinking and violence against women that need to be addressed with proper education and community engagement. Then it comes to the victim support system for survivors, including immediate medical facilities and legal assistance for their rehabilitation and empowerment. 

Public awareness is also very important to be addressed but, in this case, it got triggered by several protests or campaigns which were necessary to bring out a change in the minds of the people toward women and promote gender equality.


There was a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court who announced the verdict against the accused and believed that they did not deserve any kind of sympathy for their heinous crime. It was one of the rarest of rare cases in which a death sentence was announced, and this heinous crime shocked society. 

The witnesses, fingerprints, and evidence proved their presence in the bus and their involvement in this crime, as was held by the Supreme Court judges. The way they treated her body and abused her body was a brutal act and was against human dignity, and this devilish act cannot be spared, held the bench.

 The bench administered justice to the family of the victim and to all the women in the country by convicting them with a death sentence, declaring this case as the rarest of rare cases. They treated her body as an object of enjoyment, and this brutal act was done to a 23-year-old medical student, Jyoti Singh. 

The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the decision of the high court judgment, as all adult accused were hanged to death except the sixth one, as he was the juvenile. He was awarded a 3-year term in a probation home, despite their mercy petitions filed by them in the Supreme Court and with the president.

 Their petitions got rejected, and they were hanged to death on March 20, 2020.


The court declared this case as the rarest of rare cases and all the four accused were convicted with a death sentence except the 6th one as he was convicted with a 3-year term in a probation home. The main accused Ram Singh committed suicide on March 11, 2013, during the trial in Tihar jail. The accused got their conviction in 2013 itself. The review petition filed by Akshay got rejected on December 18, 2019, and finally, they were hanged on March 20, 2020. The Nirbhaya rape case was a watershed incident that broke public trust and brought some crucial reform in society regarding gender equality and violence in India. The legal community must come forward to address these challenges and build a society where women can live without fear of violence and discrimination.


1: Were all the accused hanged to death?  

ANS: YES, EXCEPT the 6th one as he was the juvenile.  

2: What was the punishment granted to the juvenile?  

ANS: The maximum punishment of 3 years in a probation home was given to the juvenile.

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