An Indian sex attacker has lost his final appeal against his execution after he argued that his life will already be shortened by Delhi's 'gas chamber' pollution.
Akshay Kumar Singh, 31, was one of four men sentenced to death for the fatal gang rape of a woman on a bus late at night in December in 2012.
The victim, physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh, 23, who was dubbed 'Nirbhaya,' or 'Fearless' by Indian media, died 12 days later from extensive internal injuries.
Her case made international headlines and exposed the scope of sexual violence against women in India, prompting lawmakers to stiffen penalties in rape cases.
Last week Akshay Singh filed a review petition to the Supreme Court that the air quality in New Delhi was like a 'gas chamber' and its water 'full of poison'.
'Everyone is aware of what is happening in Delhi-NCR (national capital region) with regard to air and water. Life is going to be short, then why death penalty?' it added.
Every winter Delhi is shrouded for months in a toxic smog that experts say is shortening the lives of the megacity's 20 million inhabitants.
However the Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected his appeal. India's president can still decide to grant him mercy, but that is not expected to happen.
Akshay is the final defendant out of four given the death sentence in the case to file a review petition before India's top court.
At the time, a judge said the ultimate punishment was needed as a 'strong deterrent' after a case that 'shocked the conscience' of a nation.
The sentences were welcomed by the victim's family and scores of people outside the court building in Delhi, who chanted 'justice, justice', as news of the punishment was relayed to them.
Even children were seen holding drawings and placards of the men being hung by a noose.
Jyoti was heading home with a male friend from a movie theater when six men lured them onto a bus in 2012.
With no one else in sight, they beat the man with a metal bar, raped Jyoti and used the bar to inflict massive internal injuries to her. The pair were dumped naked on the roadside, and she died two weeks later.
The assailants were tried relatively quickly in a country where sexual assault cases often languish for years. Four defendants were sentenced to death.
Another hanged himself in prison before his trial began, though his family insists 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.
Activists say new sentencing requirements haven't deterred rape, the fourth-most common crime against women in India, according to government statistics. The last hanging in India was in 2013.
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, drawing praise from people frustrated by the pace of the 2012 case and condemnation from those who said it undermined the courts' role.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.