How Nirbhaya Changed The Way We Treat Sex Crimes

On the night of 16 December 2012, an incident in the heart of Delhi shook the country. The gangrape of 23-year-old Nirbhaya set a chain of events in motion. Since then, four and a half years have passed. The Quint now brings you a comprehensive timeline of the events that occurred after the fateful night including the conviction of the perpetrators, and beyond.


The Gangrape

A 23-year-old medical student and her friend watch 'Life of Pi' at a theatre in South Delhi and head home at 9 pm. The two friends board a private bus. Six people on the bus – including a 17-year-old – brutally rape the girl, assault her friend, and throw them out of the bus.


National Protest

The incident leads to a national furore – streets near India Gate in New Delhi fill up with angry protesters demanding speedy justice. They are met with water cannons and a lathi-charge.


Verma Committee

In the face of demands that laws in the country be changed to ensure a speedy trial, the government sets up a committee of former judges to recommend amendments to Criminal Law. The committee is headed by Justice JS Verma and comprises Justice Leila Seth and Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium.


Fast Track Court

Former Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir inaugurates a Fast Track Court (FTC) for a speedy trials in sex crimes.


Five Accused Chargesheeted

A formal chargesheet is filed against the five accused – Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur.


Court Trial Begins

The fast track court begins proceedings against five of the six people accused on 17 January 2013. By February, they are charged under 13 different sections of the IPC and CrPC.


Sixth Accused Confirmed To Be A Minor

The sixth accused in the case is subjected to a battery of tests to confirm his age. The Juvenile Justice Board rules that he is a minor, thereby ruling him out of the criminal trial along with the other accused. On 28 February 2013, he is charged with rape and murder by the board.

MARCH 2013

Prime Accused Commits Suicide

Ram Singh, one of the five accused, is found hanging in Cell Number 3 in Tihar Jail. His death is ruled a suicide.

MARCH 2013

Criminal Amendment Bill, 2013 Passed

Parliament passes the Criminal Amendment Bill, 2013. Seen as path-breaking, the new law redefines sexual offences in an effort to reduce crimes against women.


Juvenile Convicted

The sixth accused, the 17-year-old male is convicted of rape and murder by the Juvenile Justice Board and given three years at a correctional facility.


Fast Track Trial Ends

The trial at the fast track court ends on 3 September 2013. The court takes a further seven days to convict them of all 13 offences on 10 September 2013.


Death Penalty

The fast track court takes three more days to award the death penalty to the convicts. The case is now referred to the Delhi High Court.

MARCH 2014

Delhi High Court Upholds Penalty

The two-judge bench of the Delhi High Court comprising Justice Reva Khetrapal and Justice Pratibha Rani, upholds the trial court's ruling. The highest court in the country, the Supreme Court, has to approve the death sentence before the four are hanged.

JUNE 2014

Two of The Four Convicts move Supreme Court

Two of the four convicts – Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur – move the Supreme Court against the trial court's death sentence.

JULY 2014 - DECEMBER 2015

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court issues a stay on the death sentence until it hears the plea of the two convicts. Thus far, the court has not heard their plea.


Petition Against Juvenile's Release

On 14 December 2015, the Delhi High Court reserved its judgement on a petition filed by Bharatiya Janata Party member Subramanian Swamy opposing the release of the former juvenile.

APRIL 2016

SC Hears Plea Against Death Sentence

The top court had on 4 April begun final hearing of the convicts’ appeal, challenging their death sentence, almost two years after staying their execution.


Accused's Failed Suicide Attempt

Vinay Sharma, one of the convicts, allegedly tried to hang himself with a towel at the high security Tihar jail in Delhi. He allegedly took excessive painkillers before the attempt.

APRIL - MAY 2017

Hearings Continue

Hearings for the convicts’ appeal continue, with amicus curiae (impartial advisers to the court) submitting statements in favour of relieving them of the death penalty. The Supreme Court is yet to rule on the appeal.

5TH MAY 2017

Death Sentence For Convicts

The Supreme Court, on 5 May, upheld the earlier Delhi High Court order awarding death penalty to all the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.

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