A division bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Mukta Gupta upheld the trial court's February order sentencing the trio to death for abducting, raping and killing a 19-year-old girl, whose mutilated and decomposed body was found in Haryana in 2012.
The bench held that after raping the girl, the convicts battered her to death and they then "defiled her body".
"It was as if the three saw a lonely woman on street and the evil in them overtook the good in them. It is not that they acted upon a sudden impulse. They were predators moving on streets and were looking for a prey. The three snatched Anamica (name changed) from the society," said the bench in its 97-page judgment.
"Their hunter's mind was hard and unyielding. The predominant idea of finding a victim to rape and then kill her had taken such complete possession of their mind that there was no room for any emotion. Satisfying their lust and executing their design to kill helpless Anamica, the record which they left upon her dead body was a sign: this is not a common rape followed by murder," it said.
The girl was kidnapped by Rahul (27), Ravi (23) and Vinod (23) in a car near her house in Qutub Vihar, Chhawla (Delhi) on the night of Feb 9, 2012, when she, with three colleagues, was returning from her Gurgaon office.
Her mutilated body was found three days later from a field in Rewari. There were multiple injuries on the body and she had been assaulted with objects ranging from car tools to earthen pots. Police said Ravi led in committing the crime as the woman had spurned his proposal for a relationship.
The bench, denying any leniency to the three youths, said: "Society has to be protected. It cannot be forgotten that punishment is a moral sanction by the society, not merely a penalty such as a parking fine, which may be imposed without the moral weight of a finding of criminal responsibility."
In India, taking cognizance that sexual offenders believe that every woman on the street belongs to their league and hence was available to satisfy their lust, the Criminal Law Act, has been amended Feb 3, 2013, for deterrent punishment, the court said.
After the Dec 16 Delhi gang rape incident, the government had amended the Criminal Law Act 2013 according to which offenders in rape-cum-murder cases may get death penalty but in the rarest of rare cases.
The court said that from the injuries caused to the victim which led to her death, it is apparent that the duration of her physical suffering was "prolonged".
It is apparent that the accused "intended to traumatise the victim emotionally, maximizing terror through humiliation, all for experiencing pleasure from the criminal action, pain and suffering of the victim (Anamica)", said the bench.
It said that, though amended, the Criminal Law Act, 2013 cannot be applied in this case because the crime was committed prior to the law being amended, but in a rarest of rare case where the crime and the criminal test are satisfied, sentence of death can be inflicted for a violent rape followed by murder.
"...specially when the accused have acted as predators, have snatched a member of the society from the society to commit the crime," it added confirming death for the three under murder charges.