Just short of 3pm on Thursday, the Delhi high court confirmed the death sentences of four men convicted by a lower court for the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi on December 16, 2012.
The case drew the nation's ire and lead to the enactment of a new, far more stringent law on sexual assault, that's now begun to show results.
A two-judge bench of the HC ruled that their crime fell in the rarest of rare category. To press home the message, justices Pratibha Rani and Reva Khetrapal said that the appeals of convicts Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur and Mukesh "are dismissed".
The parents of the 23-year-old — who died of the horrendous wounds inflicted on her in a moving bus by six despicable characters including a juvenile — were present in the court when the judges upheld the death sentences, which wasn't a surprise as the gang rape had lead to widespread protests.
The parents, with the mother draped in a green and black sari and the father sporting a grey sweater, displayed no emotions when the ruling came. They knew this was coming, and would be to their satisfaction.
In the HC complex itself, there was hardly any indication of the appeals being heard in the court. Lawyers went about their business with a silent purpose. It's known that many of them have their reservations on the death sentences awarded to the four convicts.
Outside the court complex, a bank of television cameras stood tiptoe on tripods, aiming their lenses at the exit gate. They had been there for nearly four hours, waiting silently. But within 10 minutes of the ruling, a commotion disturbed the relative quiet.
A group of young men and a burkha-clad woman suddenly came alive, throwing and stamping on copies of a book on the case written by AP Singh, defence lawyer of Akshay and Mukesh. Shouting slogans against the book, they called for its ban. This, even as Singh stood five feet away, giving bytes, justifying the book and its contents.
Simultaneously, another group of men and a lone girl, with black bands across their foreheads, started another island of commotion, holding up banners that read "HANG THE JUVENILE ALSO" and "DEATH FOR THE MUMBAI GANG RAPISTS". They kept up the chant "Na-Baalig Ko Bhi Phaansi Doh - Na-Baalig Ko Bhi Phaansi Doh".
Around that time, 15 minutes after 3pn, out walked the parents of the 23-year-old victim. That sent the cameras scurrying, to a make circles around the two. Finally, the cameras got their bytes, and the parents had their say. "We are satisfied, yes. But real closure will only come when all the rapists, including the juvenile, meet their maker," said the mother, with a quiet resolve, and not a morsel of mercy in her eyes. That statement drew the curtains on a day that for the most part was as quiet as a grave.
Dec 16 gang rape timeline
* Dec 16, 2012: A 23-year-old physiotherapy student raped by six people, including a juvenile, inside a moving bus.
* Dec 17: Bus driver Ram Singh and two other accused arrested.
* Dec 18: Protests over the incident, crowds clash with police in central Delhi. Fourth accused arrested.
* Dec 19: Two accused brought before a Delhi court. Accused Vinay tells court to "hang me".
* Dec 21: Fifth accused, who claims to be 17-and-half years old, arrested from Anand Vihar in east Delhi.
* Accused Akshay Kumar Singh arrested from Bihar.
* Dec 22: Gang rape victim records statement before a sub-divisional magistrate.
* Dec 23: Fast track court set up by the Delhi high court.
* Dec 24: The government announces setting up of a committee to suggest amendments in law for speedy trials and enhanced punishment for criminals in rape cases.
* Dec 27: The victim is airlifted to Singapore for treatment.
* Dec 29: She succumbs to her injuries at a Singapore hospital.
* Dec 30: The body of the gang rape victim is flown back to Delhi, cremated.
* Jan 3, 2013: A case of rape, murder, kidnapping, destruction of evidence, and attempted murder is filed against all the five accused in the case.
* Jan 7: Court orders in-camera trial.
* Jan 10: Five accused get lawyers for defence.
* Jan 28: Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) declares that one of the six accused is a minor.
* Feb 2: Fast track court paves the way for trial and charges five men with murder, gang rape and other offences.
* Feb 3: The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, is passed by the Lok Sabha March 19 and the Rajya Sabha March 21.
* Feb 5: Trial begins in the case and court records statements of accused.
* March 11: Accused Ram Singh is found dead, hanging in his Tihar Jail cell.
* May 17: The victim's mother appears as a prosecution witness before the trial court and says, "Give justice to my daughter".
* June 14: The juvenile accused turns 18 in custody. Age calculated according to school certificate.
* July 11: JJB in New Delhi defers verdict on the minor accused to July 25.
* July 25: JJB defers verdict on minor accused till Aug 5.
* Aug 22: The Supreme Court allows the Juvenile Justice Board to go ahead with pronouncing its verdict after accepting BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's plea for a fresh interpretation of the term "juvenile".
* Aug 31: Juvenile Justice Board sentences the minor accused to a three-year stay in a special home.
* Sep 10: Court convicts the four accused.
* Sep 11: Court reserves the order on sentencing the four convicted in the Dec 16 gang rape case.
* Sep 13: Court awards death penalty to the four.
* Sep 13: Trial court refers the case to the Delhi High Court for confirmation of their death sentence.
* Nov 1: The Delhi high court starts hearing the case on a daily basis.
* Jan 3, 2014: The Delhi High Court reserves its verdict on confirming the death sentence and appeals of the four convicts in the Dec 16 gang rape and murder case.
* March 13: The Delhi High Court upholds the death sentences awarded to the four convicts.