India gang-rape case july 11
The fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi in 2012 unleashed a wave of public outrage across India © AFP/File Noah Seelam

New Delhi (AFP) – An appeal filed by four men sentenced to death for the fatal gang-rape of a student inside a moving bus in 2012 is to be fast-tracked, India’s top court said Monday.

The Supreme Court would sit beyond its working hours every Monday and Friday in order to expedite the last hearing into the appeal lodged by the men, who were found guilty of the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh in New Delhi.

The court begun the final hearing in April, almost two years after staying their execution in the case.

The rape and subsequent death of the 23-year-old woman from internal injuries sparked some of the biggest demonstrations in India’s recent history, which intensified after being broken up by heavy-handed police tactics.

The attack highlighted the frightening level of violence against women in the world’s second most populous country and led to a major reform of India’s rape laws, speeding up trials and increasing penalties.

The court Monday also allowed the victim’s parents to intervene in the case, a rare instance in the Indian legal system where victims or their families have virtually no say in the court procedures.

“It is a big thing for us that the court has accepted our plea and made us a party in the case,” the victim’s father Badrinath Singh told AFP.

“We would like to thank the court for giving us the opportunity to have a say in the case. It has restored our faith in the judicial system.”

In 2013, a trial court had ordered the four men to hang, a verdict that was later upheld by the High Court. A fifth convict, a juvenile, was released from a correction home last year while the sixth committed suicide while on remand.

The convicts then challenged their sentencing in the top court.

Under Indian law, the victim of a sex attack cannot be named but the parents have called for people to use their daughter’s name in a bid to end the stigma often attached to victims.