Skip to main content

Fast-track court hearings begin in India gang rape case

By Sumnima Udas, CNN
January 22, 2013 -- Updated 0401 GMT (1201 HKT)
Indian protestors light candles around a mannequin representing the rape victim during a rally in New Delhi on December 31.
Indian protestors light candles around a mannequin representing the rape victim during a rally in New Delhi on December 31.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Five adult suspects accused of raping and killing a woman appear in court
  • NEW: Media outlets cannot report details of what happened at the hearing
  • NEW: The Supreme Court will hear a request to move the case outside New Delhi
  • The 23-year-old victim died following the alleged attack on a bus in December

New Delhi (CNN) -- An Indian fast-track court on Monday began hearing the case of five men charged in the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi, the latest step in a case that has appalled and transfixed India.

The five adult suspects in the December 16 incident appeared at the hearing. But details about what was said in court cannot be reported under a judge's ruling imposing restrictions on coverage of the case.

The suspects are alleged to have attacked the woman and her male companion on a bus, robbed them and dumped them by the side of the road.

The woman, badly injured in the attack, died two weeks later despite being flown to Singapore for treatment. Her companion survived.

CNN rides along with Delhi police
Changing the male mindset in India
'Slumdog' star weighs in on gang rape
Father of India rape victim speaks out

The five men are charged with murder, rape and kidnapping and could face the death penalty if convicted.

A sixth suspect, who is believed to be too young to be tried as an adult, is facing proceedings in a juvenile court.

Indian rape debate: Why death penalty is no solution

The case is being heard in a "fast-track" court, which India introduced to try to expedite cases in a justice system bogged down by red tape. It means sessions of the trial, once it begins, should take place nearly every working day until a verdict is reached.

The hearing Monday was a procedural step at which the charge sheet detailing prosecutors' accusations against the suspects was submitted. The trial will begin once the prosecution's arguments are made in court.

The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday, according to defense lawyers.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court is due to hear a plea from the lawyer of one of the accused to shift the trial outside of New Delhi.

The magistrates' court that initially heard the case imposed restrictions on what the news media can report about events in court.

That practice is common in rape cases in India, and the magistrate said it was also necessary to protect the suspects' safety amid intense media coverage and widespread anger.

The case has prompted rallies in cites across India and an uproar over the treatment of women.

Authorities have not released the name of the woman, but Indian protesters have been calling her Damini, which means "lightning" in Hindi.

"Damini" is also a 1993 Bollywood film whose lead female character fights for a housemaid, a victim of sexual assault.

The government has pledged to strengthen laws against sexual assaults after the outrage over the case.

The events have also focused the attention of the Indian news media on attacks against women around the huge country. Newspapers and television stations have been reporting other shocking rape allegations on an almost daily basis.

The number of reported rapes in India -- a country where a cultural stigma keeps many victims from reporting the crime -- has increased from 2,487 in 1971 to 24,206 in 2011, according to official figures.

Most women in India have stories of sexual harassment and abuse on public transportation or on the streets, the Indian Council on Global Relations says.

Rape case 'an awakening' for India, victim's father says

India rape victim's family wants hospital in her village

Companion of India rape victim: I begged attackers to stop

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Violence against women in India
She was attacked at a rural police station, and her landmark case awakened India decades ago.
January 28, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
An Indian army corporal suspected of sexually assaulting a 14-month-old girl has been taken into custody.
November 17, 2013 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
Giving voice to the victims of violence has power. When a discussion builds around it, those voices gain strength.
December 16, 2013 -- Updated 0222 GMT (1022 HKT)
The colorful, busy streets of New Delhi are a mixture of old and new. Some people have modern attitudes, while others remain rooted in ancient values.
December 16, 2013 -- Updated 0223 GMT (1023 HKT)
When CNN's Sumnima Udas tells people outside India that she lives in New Delhi, she is almost always asked: "Do you feel safe there?" or worse, "what's with the rape culture in India?"
September 14, 2013 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
An Indian court sentenced four men to death for the rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi, an attack that appalled the South Asian nation.
September 11, 2013 -- Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT)
The New Delhi rape case left the whole world wondering why India is treating its women so badly.
September 10, 2013 -- Updated 1010 GMT (1810 HKT)
An Indian court finds four men guilty of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012.
August 28, 2013 -- Updated 0828 GMT (1628 HKT)
I wasn't raped, but my attackers sexually assaulted and then tried to kill me.
August 14, 2013 -- Updated 1121 GMT (1921 HKT)
They're called the Red Brigade, a group of teenagers who are facing sex pests head on, vigilante-style.
August 23, 2013 -- Updated 1549 GMT (2349 HKT)
A U.S. student's experience of sexual harassment in India triggers more anguish and sympathy from women in India.
August 23, 2013 -- Updated 1811 GMT (0211 HKT)
American student Michaela Cross says during a three-month trip to India she experienced relentless sexual harassment, groping and worse.
August 15, 2013 -- Updated 1029 GMT (1829 HKT)
Months after the brutal rape of an Indian woman on a bus, have measures to address violence against women worked?
March 7, 2013 -- Updated 2147 GMT (0547 HKT)
New Delhi is known as the crime capital of India. CNN's Sumnima Udas talks to women there about what daily life is like.
July 16, 2013 -- Updated 1106 GMT (1906 HKT)
There's one clear observation from the outcry to India's rape crisis: some of the voices belong to India's men.
January 16, 2013 -- Updated 1906 GMT (0306 HKT)
'Top Chef' Host Padma Lakshmi weighs in on the New Delhi gang rape case and shares her experience living in India.
January 3, 2013 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
The director of Amnesty International, India, says that execution "would just perpetuate the cycle of violence."
January 16, 2013 -- Updated 2355 GMT (0755 HKT)
The Delhi police bore the brunt of criticism for a December gang rape, but now they say they're changing their ways.
January 4, 2013 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
The fatal gang rape of a young woman sparked weeks of angry protests and heated debates about sexual violence in Indian society.
January 3, 2013 -- Updated 1853 GMT (0253 HKT)
The New Delhi woman who was gang-raped died with her honor intact; her rapists will live in ignominy, actress Leeza Mangaldas writes.
ADVERTISEMENT