• An Indian court has ordered the four men to be hanged on February 1
  • Two of the killers lost their final appeals against their death sentences this week
  • They are convicted of gang raping and murdering a student on New Delhi bus
  • Their 23-year-old victim died shortly after the attack in a case that shocked India
Nirbhaya case convicts
An Indian court has ordered that four men convicted of the infamous 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a New Delhi bus would now be hanged on February 1.

The court had earlier said they would be executed on January 22, a ruling that prompted the convicts to seek last possible legal remedies.

Indian media reports say Tihar prison, where the four are incarcerated, recently held a dummy execution to test the gallows.

Six people were originally charged with taking part in the brutal attack aboard a city bus that made headlines around the world and triggered massive nationwide protests across India.

One of the six convicted was released after spending three years in a detention centre as a juvenile while another allegedly committed suicide in his prison cell.

Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh lost their final appeals against their death sentences this week. An Indian court has ordered them to be hanged on February 1

Pawan Gupta (left) and Akshay Kumar Singh (right) were also sentenced to death in 2013 after gang-raping Jyoti Singh on a Delhi bus the previous December

The order to hang the four convicts came on Friday after the parents of the victim approached the court, saying they were fed up with the delays and appeals.

Two of the killers - Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh - lost their final appeals against their death sentences this week and the Supreme Court ordered the executions to go ahead.

They were due to be hanged along with Akshay Kumar Singh and Pawan Gupta on January 22 at 7am in Tihar jail.

But in a failed last desperate bid to buy them more time, Mukesh Singh filed his 'mercy petition' on Tuesday.

After each rejection, they must then be given 14 days' notice before execution.

The Supreme Court had upheld death sentences against the four men in 2017 and since then their execution has been stuck in a legal quagmire.

Jyoti Singh, 23, was attacked in December 2012 while returning home after visiting the cinema with a male friend.

Her assailants took turns to rape and violate her with a metal rod as the bus drove around the capital, before dumping her and the beaten-up friend on the road.

Singh died of her injuries nearly a fortnight after the attack - in Singapore, where she had been flown for specialist treatment.

Tens of thousands of Indians took to the streets in protest, and the case led to a major overhaul of laws surrounding sexual assault.

It also spawned an award-winning documentary as well as a Netflix series.

Singh's family said they were still unsure if the convicts would be hanged on February 1.

'We have struggled for seven years to get justice for our daughter. They (convicts) have been using all sorts of delaying tactics. We won't be satisfied until they are hanged,' Singh's mother told reporters outside the court.

The four men were sentenced to death in 2013 after gang-raping Jyoti Singh on a Delhi bus the previous December.

Nirbhaya's parents
© AP
The victim's parents Asha Devi and Badri Singh are pictured at the Supreme Court in New Delhi in 2018

The 23-year-old victim, a student who became known as 'Nirbhaya' or 'Fearless' in India, died of her injuries 12 days after the attack.

Another suspect hanged himself in prison before his trial began, though his family claims he was killed.

The sixth assailant was a minor at the time of the attack and was sentenced to three years in a reform home.

After years on death row, the four were told earlier this month that a New Delhi court had scheduled the hangings for January 22.

One of them, Akshay Kumar Singh, filed a review petition earlier this month, after the other three had theirs rejected.

His lawyer accused the judges of bowing to public pressure, but the Supreme Court rejected Singh's appeal.

India's head of state is not expected to intervene in the case which shocked India and brought global attention to the country's sexual violence epidemic.

The victim had been heading home with a male friend from a movie theater when six men lured them onto a bus, authorities say.

With no one else in sight, they beat the man with a metal bar, raped the woman and used the bar to inflict massive internal injuries to her.

The pair were dumped naked on the roadside, and the woman died two weeks later.

Nirbhaya protests
© Getty Images
The harrowing case caused a surge of protest movements across India with women coming out across the country to report their own experiences of sexual violence
The assailants were tried relatively quickly in a country where sexual assault cases often languish for years.

The supreme court's ruling comes amid a revived debate over sexual violence in India after several headline-grabbing cases in recent weeks.

A woman in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh was doused with gasoline and set on fire by five men, including two she had accused of gang rape and who were out on bail, on her way to attend a court hearing in her case.

She died earlier this month at a hospital in New Delhi.

The burned body of a 27-year-old veterinarian was found in late November near the city of Hyderabad in southern India.

Police later fatally shot four men being held on suspicion of raping and killing the woman after investigators took them to the crime scene.

It drew praise from people frustrated by the pace of the 2012 New Delhi case and condemnation from those who said it undermined the courts' role.