The International Commission of Jurists on Friday condemned the execution of the four convicts of the 2012 Delhi gangrape case, and called for abolishing the death penalty, reported The Hindu. The four convicts – Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta – were hanged to death at the Tihar Jail at 5.30 am, seven years after the crime, which had led to massive protests across the nation.

“State-sanctioned executions are little more than public theatre that risk celebrating and perpetuating violence at the expense of the ‘rule of law’,” said Frederick Rawski, the body’s Asia-Pacific director. “As heinous as these crimes were, the imposition of the death penalty – the deterrent effect of which has been widely debunked – does nothing to improve the lives of women.”

The international organisation urged the Indian government to take immediate measures to stop capital punishment as prescribed by the United Nations General Assembly Resolutions.

Meanwhile, following the hanging on Friday morning, Asha Devi, the mother of the woman, thanked the judiciary and government. “Finally they have been hanged, it was a long struggle,” she told ANI. “Today, we got justice, this day is dedicated to the daughters of the country. I thank the judiciary and government.”

Death warrants for the convicts had been issued for the fourth time as they had taken turns to file multiple petitions in the last few months in an attempt to escape the death penalty. Even two hours before the hanging, the convicts had moved the Supreme Court.

Singh, Thakur, Sharma, Gupta and two others – a juvenile who was released after spending three years in a juvenile detention centre, and main accused Ram Singh who died in prison – raped and brutally assaulted a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi on December 16, 2012. Weeks later, on December 29, the woman died at a hospital in Singapore. Her death led to several protests and more conversation about crimes against women. It also led to some changes in law.

Devi said her wait for justice was painful and agonising. “We will continue our fight for justice for India’s daughters,” she told PTI. She added that she hugged her daughter’s photograph and told her that she finally got justice.

However, Devi said “justice was delayed but not denied”. “We will appeal to the Supreme Court to lay down guidelines so that the delay tactics used in her case are not repeated in other cases,” she added, according to ANI. “The process of availing legal remedies by death-row convicts should be time-bound. In cases of more than one convict, they should be allowed to only file their curative petition and mercy pleas etc together and not separately.”

The woman’s father said people across cities and small towns and villages are celebrating the execution. “We appeal for observing this day as Nirbhaya Nyay Diwas [day of justice],” he added.

Politicians react to execution

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the hanging saying that “justice has prevailed”. “It is of utmost importance to ensure dignity and safety of women,” he tweeted. “Our nari shakti [women power] has excelled in every field. Together, we have to build a nation where the focus is on women empowerment, where there is emphasis on equality and opportunity.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said it took seven years for the convicts to be executed. “It took seven years for justice to be delivered,” he added. “Today, we have to take a pledge that a similar incident does not happen again. We have seen how the convicts manipulated the law until recently. There are a lot of loopholes in our system, we need to improve the system.”

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he wished the execution was done earlier. “All criminals who committed one of the most reprehensible crimes have been given capital punishment,” he told ANI. “Today is also the day to reflect by the judiciary, government, civil society that should some people convicted for capital punishment be allowed to manipulate the system to delay it for seven years.”

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy said the case revealed flaws in the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, reported ANI. “Quick punishment should be given in such matters. So government of India wants to bring some changes in IPC, CrPC.”

Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said the execution of the four convicts should serve as a “message” to those who think they can commit crimes against women and escape the law.

BJP leader Gautam Gambhir tweeted: “Hanged till death! Finally! I know we are late Nirbhaya.”

Puducherry Governor Kiran Bedi lauded Asha Devi, the woman’s mother, for not losing hope in seven years. “Asha Devi mother of Nirbhaya goes down in history as an Unstoppable Mother who fought for ultimate justice for her daughter,” she tweeted. “Her struggle fully exposed the irony of brutal and merciless criminals who pray for mercy to live for themselves.”

Other reactions

Meanwhile, National Commission for Women chief Rekha Sharma hailed the execution. “An example has been set today but it could have been done earlier,” she said. “Now people know that they will be punished, you may extend the date but you will get punished.”

Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal said it is a historic day, reported ANI. “Nirbhaya got justice after over 7 years, her soul must have found peace today,” she added. “Country has given a strong message to rapists that if you commit this crime you will be hanged.”

The victim’s parents had repeatedly expressed their unhappiness at the executions being delayed. The first death warrant was issued for January 22, and then postponed to February 1 because of the mercy pleas filed by two of the convicts. After this, they were scheduled to be hanged at Tihar Jail in Delhi on March 3, but another mercy plea led to a postponement.

All four convicts had filed multiple petitions over the last few months in an attempt to stall their hanging. Their mercy petitions were rejected by President Kovind.