Delhi gang-rape: Court to frame charges against five accused

New Delhi, Feb 2 (IANS) A fast-track court here is likely to frame charges Saturday against the five men who brutally assaulted, murdered and gang-raped a young woman in Delhi Dec 16, who died 13 days later in Singapore.

The counsels for accused and prosecution have concluded their arguments on charges against five of the six accused in the gang-rape.

The Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) declared the sixth accused a minor last month, and his case will be heard by the board.

The five accused are: bus driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, fruit seller Pawan Gupta, gym instructor Vinay Sharma and bus cleaner Akshay Thakur. All of them are now in Delhi's Tihar Central Jail.

The hearing in the case had started Jan 21 at the fast-track court which was set up to try the case that had led to a nation-wide outrage against crimes against women.

The accused were formally charged in the Saket court 18 days after they gang-raped and tortured the 23-year-old physiotherapy intern in a moving bus, causing multiple-organ failure that led to her death.

They also assaulted her 28-year-old male friend. Both were thrown out of the bus after around 40 minutes, naked, bleeding and shivering. The friend is the main witness in the case.

The chargesheet, with annexures, runs into thousands of pages and includes the victim's statement, details of the accused, evidence and forensic reports.

Police have charged the five accused under 13 sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC): sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 376 (2)(g) (gang-rape), 377 (unnatural offences), 395 (dacoity), 396 (murder in dacoity), 365 (kidnapping or abduction with intent to secretly or wrongfully confine a person), 394 (hurting in dacoity), 201 (destruction of evidence), 120B (conspiracy), 34 (common intention), 412 (dishonestly receiving stolen property), and 397 (robbery or dacoity with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt).

All the accused were arrested between Dec 17-21 following a nationwide outcry over the crime, which also triggered protests in several cities. In Delhi, protesters clashed with security forces.

The union cabinet Friday approved an ordinance for enhanced punishment in cases of crimes against women, including sexual assault, acid attacks, voyeurism and trafficking, as suggested by the Justice J.S. Verma Committee.

The government had recommended to President Pranab Mukherjee that an ordinance be issued.

The Verma Committee, set up by the government Dec 23 to review laws to provide speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault, submitted its report to the government Jan 23. The panel was set up after the Dec 16 incident.

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