Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a 38 year old case relating to murder the 3-Judge Bench of Rohinton Fali Nariman, Hemant Gupta* and B.R. Gavai, JJ., had held

“The ossification test conducted in year 2020 when the appellant was 55 years of age cannot be conclusive to declare him as a juvenile on the date of the incident.”

The instant appeal had been preferred against the order of High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, wherein the Court had dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant against his conviction under Section 302 read with Section 34 of Penal Code, 1860. The appellant had reached the Supreme Court with the contention that he was juvenile on the date of incident i.e. 20-07-1982. In support of plea of juvenility, he had relied upon family register maintained by the Panchayat, Aadhaar Card and an order passed by the High Court in the year 1982 by which the High Court had granted him bail on the basis of report of the Radiologist that the age of the appellant at that time was between 15½ – 17½ years.

Later on, perusal to an order of Supreme Court a Medical Board consisting of five doctors was constituted which had opined in the report dated 08-09-2020 that at present the age of applicant was around 40-55 years. Relying on the said report the High Court opined that,

“The occurrence took place on 20-07-1982 i.e. 38 years ago. When age of the appellant is determined on all hypothetical calculations i.e. (55-38=17 years) (40-38= 2 years) and taking the average of difference between maximum and minimum age i.e. 48-38 = 10 years, then it falls below 17 years.”

The Bench reiterated legal position that plea of juvenility could be raised at any stage even after finality of the proceedings before the Court. However, the Bench further observed that There were minor variations in law as the Rule 12(3) (a)(i) and (ii) of Rules, 2007 had been clubbed together with slight change in the language and Section 94 of the new Act did not contain the provisions regarding benefit of margin of age to be given to the child or juvenile as was provided in Rule 12(3)(b) of the Rules.

Reliance was placed on Mukarrab v. State of Uttar Pradesh, (2017) 2 SCC 210, wherein the Supreme Court while observing that, a blind and mechanical view regarding the age of a person could not be adopted solely on the basis of the medical opinion by the radiological examination, had held that,

“The ossification test cannot be regarded as conclusive when the appellants have crossed the age of thirty years.”

Since the medical report in support of the bail order was not available, the Bench stated that such order granting bail could not be conclusive determination of age of a person.

Determination of Age in the absence of conclusive Proof

First attempt to determine the age was by assessing the physical appearance of the person when brought before the Board or the Committee. In case of a person around 18 years of age, the ossification test could be said to be relevant for determining the approximate age of a person in conflict with law. However, when the person was around 40-55 years of age, the structure of bones could not be helpful in determining the age.

In Arjun Panditrao Khotkar v. Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal, (2020) 7 SCC 1, the Supreme Court had held that in context of certificate required under Section 65B of the Evidence Act, 1872, as per the Latin maxim, lex non cogit ad impossibilia, “law does not demand the impossible”. Thus, when the ossification test could not yield trustworthy and reliable results, such test could not be made a basis to determine the age of the person concerned on the date of incident. Therefore, in the absence of any reliable trustworthy medical evidence to find out age of the appellant, the Court stated that the ossification test conducted in year 2020 when the appellant was 55 years of age cannot be conclusive to declare him as a juvenile on the date of the incident.

Noticing that an application was submitted by the appellant himself for obtaining an Arms Licence prior to the date of the incident, where he had given his date of birth as 30-12-1961 which would make him of 21 years of age on the date of the incident i.e. 20-07-1982, the Court opined that,

“The appellant could not be treated to be juvenile on the date of incident as he was more than 21 years of age as per his application submitted to obtain the Arms Licence.”

Non Applicability of Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus in India

The Supreme Court in Ilangovan v. State of T.N., (2020)10 SCC 533, held, “The doctrine of Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus merely involves the question of weight of evidence which a court may apply in a given set of circumstances but it is not what may be called “a mandatory rule of evidence”. Therefore, merely because a prosecution witness was not believed in respect of another accused, the testimony of the said witness could not be disregarded qua the present appellant as the said maxim was not applicable in India. Further, it was not necessary for the prosecution to examine all the witnesses who might have witnessed the occurrence.

Hence, in the light of above considerations and the fact that the Trial Court as well as the High Court had appreciated the entire evidence to return a finding of guilt against the appellant, the instant appeal was dismissed.

[Ram Vijay Singh v. State of U.P., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 142, decided on 25-02-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

*Judgment by: Justice Hemant Gupta

Know Thy Judge| Justice Hemant Gupta

Appearance before the Court by:

For the Appellant: Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan and Advocate Pranav Sachdeva

For the Respondent: Advocate Goel

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a bid to clear the air over the applicability of and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 in a case where the accused had committed an offence in the year 1981 and had pleaded juvenility, the bench of SA Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ elaborately discussed the schemes of the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986, the Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection Of Children) Act, 2000 and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and concluded that

  • all proceedings in respect of a juvenile pending in any court on the date on which the 2000 Act came into force shall continue before that court as if the 2000 Act had not been passed; and
  • 2000 Act would continue to apply and govern the proceedings which were pending when the 2015 Act was enforced.

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE


The accused was sentenced to life imprisonment for commission of the offence under Section 302 read with section 34. There was, however, the question of juvenility involved and the Trial Court held that the accused was not a juvenile as per the Juvenile Justice Act, 1986 (1986 Act) as he was more than 16 year of age on the date of commission of the offence i.e. 11.12.1981.

The conundrum in the present case was in light of the definition of ‘juvenile’ under the 1986 Act, which was below sixteen years in case of a boy and below eighteen years in case of a girl on the date the boy or girl is brought for first appearance before the court or the competent authority, whereas the Juvenile Justice (Care And Protection Of Children) Act, 2000 (2000 Act), does not distinguish between a boy or girl and a person under the age of eighteen years is a juvenile. Further, under the 2000 Act, the age on the date of commission of the offence is the determining factor.


APPLICABILITY OF THE 2000 ACT


Pratap Singh v. State of Jharkhand, (2005) 3 SCC 551 verdict and its effect

The Constitution Bench in Pratap Singh v. State of Jharkhand, (2005) 3 SCC 551 held

  • the 2000 Act would be applicable in a pending proceeding instituted under the 1986 Act in any court or authority, if the person had not completed eighteen years of age as on 1st April 2001, when the 2000 Act came into force.
  • the reckoning date for the determination of the age of the juvenile is the date of the offence and not the date when he is produced before the authority or in a court.
  • Consequently, the 2000 Act would have prospective effect and not retrospective effect except in cases where the person had not completed the age of eighteen years on the date of commencement of the 2000 Act. Other pending cases would be governed by the provisions of the 1986 Act.

Scheme of the 2000 Act

  • Legislative intent clearly expressed states that all proceedings in respect of a juvenile pending in any court on the date on which the 2000 Act came into force shall continue before that court as if the 2000 Act had not been passed.
  • If the court comes to a finding that a juvenile has committed the offence, it shall record the finding but instead of passing an order of sentence, forward the juvenile to the Juvenile Justice Board (Board) which shall then pass orders in accordance with the provisions of the 2000 Act, as if the Board itself had conducted an inquiry and was satisfied that the juvenile had committed the offence.
  • The proviso states that the Board, for any adequate and special reasons, can review the case and pass appropriate order in the interest of the juvenile.
  • The expression ‘all pending cases’ in the Explanation to Section 20 includes not only trial but even subsequent proceedings by way of appeal, revision etc. or any other criminal proceedings. Thus, in respect of pending cases, Section 20 authoritatively commands that the court must at any stage, even post the judgment by the trial court when the matter is pending in appeal, revision or otherwise, consider and decide upon the question of juvenility.
  • Juvenility is determined by the age on the date of commission of the offence. The factum that the juvenile was an adult on the date of enforcement of the 2000 Act or subsequently had attained adulthood would not matter.
  • As per Section 64, where a juvenile in conflict with law is undergoing any sentence of imprisonment at the commencement of the 2000 Act, he shall, in lieu of undergoing the sentence, be sent to a special home or be kept in a fit institution in such manner as the state government thinks fit for the remainder of the period of sentence. However, such sentence shall not exceed the maximum period provided in Section 15 of the 2000 Act. The statute overrules and modifies the sentence awarded, even in decided cases.

Applicability of the 2000 Act to the facts of the case

In light of the aforementioned legal position, the Court noticed that it can, at this stage, decide and determine the question of juvenility of the accused, notwithstanding the fact that he was not entitled to the benefit of being a juvenile on the date of the offence, under the 1986 Act, and had turned an adult when the 2000 Act was enforced.

“As the accused was less than 18 years of age on the date of commission of offence on 11.12.1981, he is entitled to be treated as a juvenile and be given benefit as per the 2000 Act.”


INTERPRETATION OF SECTION 25 OF THE 2015 ACT


Section 25 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is a non-obstante clause which applies to all proceedings in respect of a child alleged or found to be in conflict with law pending before any Board or court on the date of commencement of the 2015 Act, that is, 31st December 2015. It states that the pending proceedings shall be continued in that Board or court as if the 2015 Act had not been passed.

  • The use of the word ‘any’ before the board or court in Section 25 of the 2015 Act, would mean and include any court including the appellate court or a court before which the revision petition is pending.
  • The word ‘found’ in the phrase ‘a child alleged or found to be in conflict with law’ is used in past-tense and would apply in cases where an order/judgment has been passed.
  • The word ‘alleged’ would refer to those proceedings where no final order has been passed and the matter is sub-judice.
  • The expression ‘court’ is not restricted to mean a civil court which has the jurisdiction in the matter of ‘adoption’ and ‘guardianship’ in terms of clause (23) to Section 2 of the 2015 Act . The definition clause is applicable unless the context otherwise requires.

“In case of Section 25, the legislature is obviously not referring to a civil court as the section deals with pending proceedings in respect of a child alleged or found to be in conflict with law, which cannot be proceedings pending before a civil court. Since the Act of 2015 protects and affirms the application of the 2000 Act to all pending proceedings, we do not read that the legislative intent of the 2015 Act is to the contrary, that is, to apply the 2015 Act to all pending proceedings.”


APPLICABILITY OF THE 2000 ACT VIS-À-VIS THE 2015 ACT


The Court noticed that in light of Section 6 of the General Clauses Act read with Section 25 of the 2015 Act, an accused cannot be denied his right to be treated as a juvenile when he was less than eighteen years of age at the time of commission of the offence, a right which he acquired and has fructified under the 2000 Act, even if the offence was committed prior to enforcement of the 2000 Act on 01.04.2001.

It, hence, concluded,

“In terms of Section 25 of the 2015 Act, 2000 Act would continue to apply and govern the proceedings which were pending when the 2015 Act was enforced.”


CONCLUSION ON FACTS


While the Court upheld the conviction of the accused, it set aside the sentence of life imprisonment and remitted the matter to the jurisdiction of the Board for passing appropriate order/directions under Section 15 of the 2000 Act including the question of determination and payment of appropriate quantum of fine and the compensation to be awarded to the family of the deceased.

[Satya Deo v. State of Uttar Pradesh,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 809, decided on 07.10.2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court (Constitution Benches)

Supreme Court: A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court today dismissed the curative petition filed by Pawan Kumar Gupta, a death row convict in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.

“The application for an oral hearing is rejected. The application for stay of execution of the death sentence is also rejected. The Curative Petition is dismissed in terms of the signed order,”

The five-judge Constitution bench of NV Ramana, Arun Mishra, RF Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan, JJ held,

“In our opinion, no case is made out within the parameters indicated in the decision of this Court in Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra, 2002 (4) SCC 388. Hence, the Curative Petition is dismissed.”

Gupta had on Friday filed a curative petition before the Supreme court seeking the commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment. He is the fourth convict in the case to file a curative petition.The Supreme Court has already rejected the curative petitions of the remaining three.

This comes as a lower court issued a fresh death warrant  for the four convicts — Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh, which orders their hanging at 6 am on March 3 at Delhi’s Tihar Jail. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has also slated for March 5 hearing on a petition, filed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, seeking directions to execute the death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case separately.

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.

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.

[Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 264, decided on 02.03.2020]

(With inputs from ANI)

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench  of R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and Navin Sinha, JJ has said that it will hear on March 5, a petition, filed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, seeking directions to execute the death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case separately. It is pertinent to note that a fresh death warrant has been issued for the four death row convicts, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta, and Mukesh Singh, in the case for their hanging at 6 am on March 3.

Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj, appearing for the Union of India today, submitted to the apex court that the Delhi High Court had given a week’s time to execute the death warrants. The Centre had moved the top court after the Delhi High Court had rejected its petition.

The Delhi High Court had, on February 5, stated that the death warrant of all convicts in the Nirbhaya case should be executed together. The Delhi High Court had observed that Delhi prison rules do not state whether when the mercy petition of one convict is pending, the execution of the other convicts can take place and from the trial court to
Supreme Courtall convicts have been held by a common order and a common judgment.

Meanwhile, a Delhi court on Saturday dismissed an application filed by Vinay Sharma, one of the four death row convicts in Nirbhaya case, seeking specialised medical treatment for his claimed “grievous head injury, fracture in his right arm, insanity, mental illness and schizophrenia”.

Four people, Mukesh Kumar Singh , Pawan Kumar Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma, and Akshay Kumar Singh, are facing execution in the infamous Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case.

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.

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.

(Source: ANI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A 3-judge bench of R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ has dismissed the plea seeking review of the order of the President of India rejecting the mercy petition of Vinay Kumar Sharma, one of the convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case. It said,

“The note put up before the President of India is a detailed one and all the relevant materials were placed before the President and upon consideration of same, the mercy petition was rejected.”

Here is a gist of the grounds raised by the petitioner and the Court’s response to the said grounds:

Non-furnishing of relevant materials under RTI Act

Stating that since this Court has examined the file as indicated above, the petitioner cannot make grievance that because of the non-furnishing of the copy of the documents, prejudice is caused to them, the Court said that in any event,

“the issue with regard to the nature of documents required not being provided under the Right to Information Act would not arise, keeping in view the definite parameters under which the petition of the present nature is required to be considered.”

Lieutenant Governor, Delhi and Home Minister, Govt. of NCT of Delhi did not sign the relevant file

Upon perusal of the file relating to the mercy petition of the petitioner, it is seen that the Minister (Home), NCT of Delhi and Lieutenant Governor, Delhi has perused the relevant file and have signed the note to reject the mercy petition.”

Non-placing of relevant materials before the President of India and the relevant materials were kept out of consideration

By perusing the note put up before the President of India, we have seen that all the documents enclosed along with mercy petition of the petitioner and the submissions made by him in the mercy petition were taken into consideration.”

Non-placing of relevant materials – medical status report and the status report as per the mental health of the petitioner

It was argued that torture, cruelty and inhuman treatment and the physical assault were inflicted on Vinay Kumar in the prison, and that he was was suffering from various illness and on complaints of “decreased appetite”, “decreased sleep” and number of other times for “psychiatric review”, “thought disorder” and “weakness”, number of times, he was taken to Central Jail Hospital and the petitioner was given treatment repeatedly. This was, however, not brought to the notice of the President. On this the Court noticed that the medical report of the petitioner along with the treatment and his latest medical report dated 30.01.2020 was placed before the concerned authorities which in turn, was placed before the President.

“In the medical status report, Dr. Akash Narade has referred to the details of the treatment of the petitioner and certified that the petitioner is psychologically well adjusted and he was being provided with regular therapy sessions by specialized therapists and the general condition of the petitioner is stable.”

The Court further reiterated that the alleged suffering of the petitioner in the prison cannot be a ground for judicial review of the executive order passed under Article 72 of the Constitution of India rejecting petitioner’s mercy petition. The bench had said the same thing while dismissing Mukesh Kumar’s plea against rejection of his mercy petition by the President.

Solitary confinement

for security reasons, the petitioner was kept in one ward having multiple single rooms and barracks and the said single room had iron bars open to air and the same cannot be equated with solitary confinement/single cell.

“It is clear from the affidavit filed by the Director General (Prisons) that the petitioner was not kept in solitary confinement; rather he was kept in protective custody which was for the benefit of the petitioner and also for ensuring the security.”

Bias Order was passed on irrelevant considerations

It was argued that bias caused to the case of the petitioner because of the statements made by the Ministers in the Delhi Government as well as in the Union Government which have led to pre-judging the outcome of the petitioner’s mercy petition even before it was placed before the President of India for consideration. On this the Court said,

“The public statements said to have been made by the Ministers, cannot be said to have any bearing on the “aid and advice” tendered by the Council of Ministers of Delhi to the Lieutenant Governor or by Council of Ministers in the Central Government to the President.”

Four people, Mukesh Kumar Singh , Pawan Kumar Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma, and Akshay Kumar Singh, are facing execution in the infamous Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case.

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.

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.

 [Vinay Kumar Sharma v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 196, decided on 14.02.2020]

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court (Constitution Benches)

Supreme Court: A 5-judge bench of NV Ramana, Arun Mishra, RF Nariman, R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan, JJ has rejected the curative petition filed by Akshay Kumar Singh, one of the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case. While doing so the Court said,

“We have gone through the Curative Petitions and the relevant documents. In our opinion, no case is made out within the parameters indicated in the decision of this Court in Rupa Ashok Hurra v. Ashok Hurra, reported in 2002 (4) SCC 388.”

Last month, on 18.12.2019, a 3-judge bench of R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ had rejected the review petition and had said,

“We do not find any error apparent on the face of the record in the appreciation of evidence or the findings of the judgment dated 05.05.2017. None of the grounds raised in the review petition call for review of the judgment dated 05.05.2017.”

Four people, Mukesh Kumar Singh , Pawan Kumar Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma, and Akshay Kumar Singh, are facing execution on February 1 in the matter.

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.

[Akshay Kumar Singh v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 108, decided on 30.01.2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dismissing the petition filed Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder convict Mukesh Kumar Singh, challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by President Ram Nath Kovind, the 3-judge bench of R Banumathi, AS Bopanna and Ashok Bhushan, JJ said,

“Merely because there was quick consideration and rejection of the petitioner’s mercy petition, it cannot be assumed that the matter was proceeded with pre-determined mind.”

Mukesh Kumar had filed the writ petition against the President’s order rejecting his mercy petition and had sought commutation of the death sentence to life imprisonment on the following grounds:

  • Relevant materials were not placed before the President of India and they were kept out of consideration while considering the mercy petition;
  • The mercy petition was rejected swiftly and there was pre-determined stance and complete non-application of mind in rejection of the mercy petition;
  • Solitary confinement of the petitioner for more than one and half years due to which the petitioner has developed severe psychiatric ailments;
  • Non-consideration of relevant circumstances like prisoners’ suffering in the prison and consideration of extraneous and irrelevant circumstances; and
  • Non-observance of established rules and guidelines in considering the petitioner’s mercy petition.

After hearing the matter at length for the entire day, the bench observed that

“By perusal of the note, we have seen that all the documents were taken into consideration and upon consideration of the relevant records and the facts and circumstances of the surrounding crime, the President has rejected the mercy petition. There is no merit in the contention that the relevant materials were kept out of the consideration of the President.”

The Court further noticed that where the power is vested in a very high authority, it must be presumed that the said authority would act carefully after an objective consideration of all the aspects of the matter.

On the argument relating to Solitary confinement of the prisoner, it was brought to the Court’s notice that for security reasons, the petitioner was kept in one ward having multiple single rooms and barracks and the said single room had iron bars open to air and the same cannot be equated with solitary confinement/single cell. It was further stated that the prisoner/petitioner who was kept in the single room comes out and mixes up with the other inmates in the prison on daily basis like other prisoners as per rules.

On the argument raised by Mukesh Kumar’s counsel that he was physically and sexually assaulted in Tihar jail and put under solitary confinement, the Court said,

“The alleged sufferings in the prison cannot be a ground for judicial review of the executive order passed under Article 72 of the Constitution rejecting the petitioner’s mercy petition.”

The Court concluded by holding that the delay in disposal of mercy petition may be a ground calling for judicial review of the order passed under Article 72/161 of the Constitution, however,

“the quick consideration of the mercy petition and swift rejection of the same cannot be a ground for judicial review of the order passed under Article 72/161 of the Constitution. Nor does it suggest that there was pre-determined mind and non-application of mind.”

Four people, Mukesh Kumar Singh , Pawan Kumar Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma, and Akshay Kumar Singh, are facing execution on February 1 in the matter.

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.

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.

[Mukesh Kumar v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 96, decided on 29.01.2020]

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Supreme Court: After a day long hearing in he petition filed Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder convict Mukesh Kumar Singh, challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by President Ram Nath Kovind, the 3-judge bench of R Banumathi, AS Bopanna and Ashok Bhushan, JJ has said that it will pass the order at 10:30 tomorrow.

Four people, Mukesh Kumar Singh , Pawan Kumar Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma, and Akshay Kumar Singh, are facing execution on February 1 in the matter.

Advocate Anjana Prakash, appearing on behalf of Mukesh, alleged that her client was physically and sexually assaulted in Tihar jail and put under solitary confinement.

“He (Mukesh) was forced to have intercourse with Akshay (another death row convict in the case) in Tihar jail,”

The counsel said that the Presidential pardon is a Constitutional duty of great responsibility, which must be exercised keeping in mind greater good of the people.

“Solitary confinement and procedural lapses are the grounds for considering this case … Undue delay in hearing the petition and the due and prescribed procedure was not followed in this case,”

She further contended that the documents were placed before the President of India without application of mind. She said,

“I am not challenging the judicial verdict. The judicial verdict stands as it is. The courts can’t go into as how it was rejected, but the president can certainly go into the merits of the case,”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Delhi government, said that even death convicts have to be treated fairly under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution but opposed the plea of the death row convict.

“Delay can be a ground for considering a case, but expeditious disposal of case/petition (/search?query=petition), it can’t be a ground for challenging this before the court,”

He highlighted that the trial court, Delhi High court, and the Supreme Court had awarded and upheld the death penalty to the convicts in the case while considering their medical condition.

“Sometimes, the medical health and condition of a death row convict deteriorate so much so that the death penalty can’t be awarded to those death row convicts, but in this case, the medical condition of this convict is fine,”

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.

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.

(Source: ANI)

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court : A bench headed by CJI SA Bobde has said that it will hear the writ petition filed by one of the death row convicts
in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case tomorrow at 12:30. The death row convict Mukesh Kumar Singh has challenged the rejection of his mercy petition by President of India. CJI had, earlier today, asked Mukesh Kumar’s lawyer to approach Supreme Court Registry for urgent listing of his plea against rejection of mercy petition by the President. He said,

“If somebody is going to be executed on February 1, it’s top priority”

A Delhi court has issued a fresh death warrant against the four death-row convicts in the Nirbhaya rape case, who will be executed on February 1 at 6 am.

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.

Last week, 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.

(Source: ANI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ has 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. The Court said,

“once a convict has chosen to take the plea of juvenility before the learned Magistrate, High Court and also before the Supreme Court and the said plea has been rejected up to the Supreme Court, the petitioner cannot be allowed to reagitate the plea of juvenility by filing fresh application under Section 7A of the JJ Act.”

Pawan Kumar had  contended that he was a juvenile under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 at the time of commission of the offence and that the same is apparent from the School Leaving Certificate. He claimed that as per his records, his date of birth is 08.10.1996 and therefore, on the date of alleged incident i.e. 16.12.2012, the petitioner was aged only 16 years 02 months and 08 days.

This, however, was not the first time that the petitioner had raised the plea of juvenility. When the matter was pending before the trial court, plea of juvenility was raised by the petitioner at the first instance. The trial court directed the Investigating Officer to file a report regarding the documents he has relied upon to determine the age of the accused. Upon consideration of the report of the Investigating Officer, the Metropolitan Magistrate had held that the age verification report of the petitioner Pawan Kumar Gupta was received and that the accused did not dispute the age verification report filed by the Investigating Officer and further, he did not dispute the age to be above 18 years at the time of commission of the offence.

He had also raised the plea of juvenility in the review petition before the Supreme Court which was also rejected by the Court vide order dated 09.07.2018. The Court, hence, noticed.

“Considering the earlier orders passed by the Metropolitan Magistrate dated 10.01.2013 and the judgment of the High Court dated 13.03.2014 and the order passed by the Supreme Court dated 09.07.2018, in our view, the learned Single Judge of the Delhi High Court rightly dismissed the revision petition.”

This rejection of SLP and earlier review and curative petitions has brought the death row convicts one more step closer to hanging that is scheduled to take place on February 1, 2020 after a Delhi Court issued fresh death warrants against all 4 convicts. Earlier the hanging was scheduled to take place tomorrow i.e. on January 22, 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.

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.

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.

[Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State of NCT of Delhi, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 48, decided on 20.01.2020]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Listing the matter to be heard on 24.11.2014, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, R.F. Nariman and U.U. Lalit, JJ asked the Central Government to elaborate on the prevailing   atmosphere   that   most   of   the juveniles are engaged in horrendous and heinous crimes like rape, murder and drug-peddling, etc.

In the present case where the CBI, through Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, approached the Court when the High Court of Calcutta declined to interfere with regard to the age of an accused on the ground that there is proof that he is a juvenile, the Attorney General suggested that the entire scheme of juvenility is engaging the Central Government’s attention. Hence the Court asked the Attorney General to file an affidavit within 3 weeks, elaborating upon whether there is any kind of consideration as regards the reduction of age, and whether the juvenility will depend upon the nature of offence committed. Central Bureau of Investigation v. Swapan Roy, 2014 SCC OnLine SC 847decided on 27.10.2014