Mukesh v. State For NCT of Delhi

Case Name        Mukesh & Anr v. State For NCT of Delhi & Ors.
Citation               (2017) 6 SCC 1
Appellant             Mukesh & Anr
Respondent          State For NCT of Delhi & Ors.
Bench                   Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan


Rape being one of the most serious crimes all over the world takes place often in all parts of the country some of which are noticed and made news while some are unnoticed. The rapist and the victim may change but the law all over the world tags such act as a serious offense. No territory has any law with a provision for forgiving the accused. Some territories implement the punishment as soon as the crime is proven. Some nations give a chance to prove the innocence of the accused.

India is one among such nation which grants the time and opportunity to the accused to prove his innocence. This grant of time causes changes and delay in the delivery of justice. Among all such events that took place in India, a remarkable incident was the case of Mukesh & Anr v. State for NCT Of Delhi & Ors. popularly known as the NIRBHAYA CASE. The Indian rape laws do not allow using the victim’s name in the media, thus such a term was given to the case, wherein ‘Nirbhaya’ means fearless.

The following discussion deals with the facts and issues of this popular case which took place from 2012 to 2017. The case that lasted for five long years. This is the reason that makes India lags in the prevention of rape. The laws to prohibit rape are true to standards, but the implementation of such laws prevents the nation from moving forward. The judgment passed in the year 2017 and implemented in the year 2020 was welcomed by all citizens even in the pandemic period of COVID. But such delays tend to eliminate the deterrent effect that criminal law aims at. Immediate and harsh punishment for such serious crime may aid in stopping its spread.

“The day a woman can walk freely on the roads at night, that day we can say that India has achieved independence.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Facts of the Case

As discussed above, the facts of the case have its base in the act of rape committed by 6 men in a running bus in Delhi on 16 December 2012. The original name of the victim is unpublished and mentioned as Nirbhaya in all discussions. Nirbhaya a 23-year-old woman with his friend was waiting at a bus stop at night. She was convinced and made to enter the empty bus. The driver, along with 5 other members including a minor of age 17 engaged in the act of forceful sexual assault. The friend who tried to protect Nirbhaya from such forceful acts was beaten up by those 6 members. That running bus was made a place for the brutal rape and various other harsh injuries. She was later admitted to the hospital for treatment but ended up joining hands with the death. Her death bed witnessed her physical and mental instability, multiple organ failure, internal bleeding, cardiac arrest, and various other troubles.

The petitioner being the State convicted the 6 men who were involved in such an inhuman activity. The respondent argued implying that there was no similarity between the activities that took place and the 6 people. The learned counsel tried to prove the presence of the 6 men in some other place, but due to the witnesses and other supporting proofs such as DNA test, blood traces, the petitioner was able to prove his arguments.

The Aftermath of December 2012

The Criminal Amendment Act 2013 was one of the noticeable amendments which widened the scope of rape as mentioned under Section 375 and inserted Sections 354A, 354B, 354C, and 354D. The term rape was defined and was restricted only to sexual intercourse. But after this Amendment, it was defined in a broader sense including any involuntary and forceful penetration without the woman’s consent into the woman’s body parts. Thus, the laws included the beginning stage of rape also under rape. But such an amendment which enlarged the law against rape and law that is concerned about the protection of women was mainly because of the Report submitted by Justice Verma Committee. The committee was formed to provide a fast trial and provide for punishment to the criminals in the case of Nirbhaya.

Justice Verma Committee Report

The committee mainly concentrated on the sexual assault that takes place all over the nation against women and suggested many changes in the law. A few of the suggested changes are:

  • The report suggested the widening of the scope of the definition of rape under the Indian Penal Code.
  • It recommended laws for marital rape.
  • Recommended special laws for women harassment in the workplace (Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace(Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2012)
  • Suggested a system for online FIR filing
  • Made ways for the police to deal with offences related to rape irrespective of jurisdiction.

Petitioner’s Arguments

As the case was made very strong from its trial from the level of the subordinate court, the appeal made by the Respondent against the Judgment of the Subordinate Court at the High Court also gave the same Judgment; the High Court confirmed the order passed before.

  • The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the criminals applied for a Review Petition in the Supreme Court under Article 137. Such a review petition can be filed in a Supreme Court when either of the parties is aggrieved by an order passed by the court due to some error of facts of the case. In the review petition, the petitioner tried to raise a defence that the offenders were absent in the place and there lies no link between the crime and the offenders. But the documents and proofs submitted by the State made the Court reject this petition.
  • The counsel then moved for a Curative Petition. The concept of raising a curative petition is for requesting any relief for the aggrieved person even after the final judgment has been passed. But the Supreme Court considering the welfare of the nation, to stop such crime in the future and to stop the flow of judiciary through a wrong path of injustice while administering such cases in the future, rejected the plea.
  • The final move made by them was the Mercy Petition. A mercy petition can be filed before the President of India. The President has the power to reprieve, respite, or remit a punishment given by the Apex Court, but such a decision requires consultation with the Council of Ministers. The President in view of the welfare of the nation upheld the death sentence given by the Supreme Court.


A bench comprising the Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan delivered the judgment in the landmark case of Nirbhaya, where the remaining 4 criminals among the 6 were awarded death sentence. The convicts were Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh who were awarded death sentence, and the minor was convicted by the Juvenile Justice Board and was sent to a reformation home for 3 years. The remaining accused among the 6 was Ram Singh. He committed suicide in jail before conviction. Though it was contended that the case does not fall under the rarest of rare case, the court rejected such contention, and awarded death sentence, because generally a death sentence is awarded only in the rarest of rare cases and not for all crimes. The 4 criminals were hanged at Tihar Jail on 20March 2020 at 5:30 am which was welcomed by the citizens even at the time of the pandemic situation.


Even after such a landmark judgment and punishment, India still witnesses many noticed and unnoticed rape cases, such as the Shakthi Mill Gang Rape Case which took place in 2013, the Hyderabad Gang Rape Case took place in the year 2019, etc. All these incidents are not just a violation of human rights but far from that where the victim’s sustainability becomes a big question mark. Though India made its presence in modern society by updating various laws and creating awareness about gender equality which is present in the Indian Constitution, the sudden action and delay in judgment caused India to stand back in controlling such crimes because ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. But in the case of Nirbhaya, the justice is not denied though it is delayed. However, such a delay paves way for other serious crimes.


  1. What are all the steps taken by the petitioner after the judgment?
  2. Why is it termed as the rarest of the rare case?
  3. 4 criminals were hanged, what is the status of remaining 2?


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