Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ rejected the plea filed by Akshay Kumar Singh, one of the convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, who had  challenged the order of rejection of his mercy petition by the President of India, inter alia, on various grounds that the settled principles of consideration of mercy petition have not been followed.

“we do not find any ground to hold that there was non-application of mind by the President of India. Insofar as the alleged torture of the petitioner in the prison”

Regarding the alleged torture in the prison, the Court said it cannot be a ground for review of the order of rejection of the Mercy Petition by the President of India.

On the ground that the Press interviews given by the persons in position of authority reported in the newspapers have influenced the decision of the President of India in rejection of the mercy petition, the Court said that

“when the decision has been taken by the highest constitutional authority like the President of India it cannot be said that the President of India was influenced by such interviews reported in the newspapers.”

It was also argued before the Court that the wife of the petitioner has filed divorce petition and the same is pending consideration and that if the death warrants scheduled for 20.03.2020 is executed what will be 4 the fate of the wife who has filed the divorce petition who has averred that she does not want to live as a widow of death row convict. On this the Court said,

“The divorce petition said to have been filed by the wife of the petitioner and the petitions filed by the petitioner before the Lieutenant Governor and Chief Minister of Delhi under Sections 432 and 433 Cr.P.C. cannot a ground for exercise of judicial review of the order of the President of India rejecting the Mercy Petition.”

Three of the four death row convicts in the Delhi gangrape case, including Gupta, had also approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) earlier this month, seeking a stay on the execution of their death sentence.

All four accused are scheduled to be hanged tomorrow. 

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.

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.

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.

[Akshay Kumar Singh v. Union of India, WRIT PETITION (CRL.) No.121 of 2020, decided on 19.03.2020]

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