Nirbhaya Case| Supreme Court Issues Notices To 4 Death Row Convicts

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ has sought response from the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case on the Centre’s appeal challenging the Delhi High Court verdict which dismissed its plea against stay on their execution. The Court also granted liberty to the authorities to approach the trial court for issuance of fresh date for the execution of these convict.

It said that the pendency of the appeal filed by the Centre and Delhi government before it would not be an impediment for the trial court in issuing fresh date for execution of the convicts.

Solicitor General Tuhar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the Delhi government, said the execution of the convicts is not for “enjoyment ” and the authorities are only executing the mandate of the law. Referring to the delaying tactics of the convicts, he said three of them have exhausted their remedies but one of them, Pawan Gupta, has not yet filed either curative plea in the apex court or mercy petition before the President. He said,

“the time granted by the High Court, namely, one week is expiring today and no further steps had been taken to avail any remedy by the convicts and, therefore, the petitioners be granted liberty to move the Trial Court for obtaining fresh date for execution of death warrant.”

He said the court has to keep in mind the impact of this on the society as despite the fact that appeals of the convict were dismissed by the top court in 2017, the authorities were “struggling to execute them even now”.

Mehta referred to the alleged encounter killing of four accused in the gang rape and murder case of a woman veterinarian in Hyderabad and said “people had celebrated after this and this was because people have started losing faith in the system. This reflects poorly on our system”.

The court had initially said that issuing notice to the convicts would further delay the matter but did it later on the appeal filed by the Centre and Delhi government.

The Court has listed the matter on February 13, 2020.

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.

[Union of India v. Mukesh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 172, order dated 11.02.2020]

(With inputs from PTI)

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