Women’s body orders protection for family of gang-rape victim as men on death row walk free

(FILE) Students look on after getting their face painted to condemn the gang-rape of a 19-year-old woman victim in Mumbai  (AFP/Getty)
(FILE) Students look on after getting their face painted to condemn the gang-rape of a 19-year-old woman victim in Mumbai (AFP/Getty)

Police in the Indian capital of Delhi have been served a notice asking them to provide protection to the family of a gang-rape victim after the three men convicted of the brutal crime were set free by the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), which functions under the Delhi government, furnished a notice to the Delhi police, which functions under the federal home ministry.

In its notice, DCW said that it has taken suo moto cognizance for the welfare of the woman’s family and written to the Delhi police commissioner seeking information about the steps taken to ensure their safety.

DCW’s move comes two days after India’s Supreme Court acquitted the three convicts in the case known as the Chhawla gang-rape.

The three men — Ravi Kumar, Rahul and Vinod — were convicted of gang-raping, torturing and murdering a 19-year-old woman in 2012.

In 2014 the Delhi high court handed the death penalty to the three, with the judge calling them “predators” who roamed the streets “looking for prey” on the fateful night.

The three men had allegedly abducted the woman, an immigrant from Pauri Garhwal in Uttarakhand, as she was returning from work in Gurugram’s Cyber City.

They took her to neighbouring Haryana state’s Rodhai village, some 30km away from Delhi, where she was raped and killed.

A Supreme Court bench comprising then chief justice of India UU Lalit, and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi overturned the high court order and set the convicts free citing “glaring lapses” during the trial.

The victim’s father has said that the family will appeal against the apex court’s decision to acquit the three convicts.

“We will appeal against the Supreme Court’s verdict, which has allowed the acquittal of the three accused. We are in the process of finalising it and will file an appeal soon to reconsider the verdict,” he was quoted as saying to news agency Press Trust of India.

“We want death penalty for all three accused... All the culprits should be hanged... only then will my daughter get justice.”

The acquittal has caused widespread outrage in India, with activists and observers questioning the delivery of justice in brutal rape cases in India.

Yogita Bhayana who has been working with the victim’s family said the court’s decision marked a dark day in India.

In August, eleven convicts serving life terms over the gangrape of Bilkis Bano, a pregnant Indian woman and the murder of seven members of her family during the 2002 Gujarat riots were released by the state government.

Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research in New Delhi said: “Why are we failing to deliver justice to rape victims? In Chhawla rape case, the rapists were given death penalty on the basis of evidence. It was upheld by high Court so what happened in Supreme Court ? Why should women believe in justice system? Rapists are at large.”

According to the federal government’s annual National Crime Records Bureau released in August, a total 428,278 cases of crimes against women were registered in 2021, a 15.3 per cent increase from 2020 when 371,503 cases were recorded,

“Kidnapping & Abduction of Women” contributed 17.6 per cent of the cases and “rape” contributed 7.4 per cent.