Nirbhaya Case| Centre approaches SC after Delhi High Court rejects plea to separately execute the 4 convicts; Hearing tomorrow

Supreme Court: A bench headed by Justice NV Ramana has agreed to hear Central government’s appeal against Delhi High Court order, which rejected its plea to separately execute the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case. The Court slated the matter for hearing on Friday after the Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing for the Central government, mentioned the matter before the Court for an urgent hearing.

The Centre had challenged in the Supreme Court Delhi High Court’s order rejecting its plea for separately executing the four convicts in the case. The government, in the Supreme Court, contended that under the Delhi Prison Rules of 2018 the pendency of legal remedies or mercy petitions of other co-convicts would have no bearing on the fate of a convict whose plea for mercy has already been rejected. It said that the 2018 Rules does not prohibit the execution of death sentence of co-convicts, one by one, on the rejection of their respective mercy petitions.

Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, had told the Delhi High Court that the convicts were playing with the judiciary. He said,

“there is a deliberate, calculated and well thought of design by the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case convicts to “frustrate mandate of law” by getting their execution delayed.”

The Centre, in its plea before the Supreme Ccourt, contended that deferring the execution of death sentence of all the four convicts, specifically when Mukesh’s mercy plea has already been dismissed by the President, has led to a gross miscarriage of justice to the victim’s family as well as the society as a whole.

Delhi High Court had, on Wednesday, granted a week’s time to the four death row convicts to avail all legal remedies available to them and said that the convicts cannot be hanged separately since they were convicted for the same crime. The High Court had passed the order while hearing petitions filed by the centre and Tihar jail authorities challenging the Patiala House Court’s order which had stayed “till further order” the execution of the four convicts in the matter. The Delhi High Court had held that the 2018 Rules observe that pendency of any application filed by one convict would necessarily require the postponement of the death sentence of all his co-convicts, even those whose mercy plea had
been rejected.

Meanwhile, President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday also rejected the mercy petition of the third convict, Akshay Thakur, in the gangrape and murder case, which took place on the intervening night of December 15-16, 2012.

The 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was gang raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 in a moving bus in south Delhi by six people before being thrown out on the road. She died on December 29, 2012 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. Besides Mukesh, three others – Akshay, Vinay, and Pawan are facing the gallows for the heinous crime that shook the entire nation. One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail here.

The Court had on May 5, 2017, upheld the death sentence of all the four convicts in the brutal December 16 gangrape and murder case. The Court, while dismissing the appeal of the four convicts, had said that the crime fell in the rarest of rare category and “shaken the conscience of the society.”

On July 9, 2018 , the Court had dismissed the review pleas filed by the three convicts in the case, saying no grounds have been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.

On December 18, 2019, the 3-judge bench of R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ rejected the review petition of the last convict, Akshay Kumar Singh, seeking modification and leniency.

On January 21, 2020, the 3-judge bench of R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ had dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya Gang rape case where he “reagitated” the plea of juvenility.

A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term. Two of the convicts are yet to file curative petitions before the Supreme Court.

Another accused, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail in March 2013 during the trial. Another convict, who was a minor at the time of the crime, was sent to a reform facility and released after three years of the crime.

Meanwhile, a Delhi Court has postponed the execution of Mukesh Kumar Singh, Pawan Kumar Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma, and Akshay Kumar Singh till further orders.

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