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]

Hot Off The PressNews

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]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: In a last ditch effort to escape the noose, Vinay Kumar Sharma, one of the four men sentenced to death in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, has filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court on Thursday after a Delhi Court issued death warrants against all 4 convicts and directed that they be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail.

In his curative plea, which is the last legal remedy available to a convict, Vinay said his young age has been erroneously rejected as a mitigating circumstance.

“The petitioner’s socio-economic circumstances, number of family dependants including ailing parents, good conduct in jail and probability of reformation have not been adequately considered leading to gross miscarriage of justice,”

It said the court’s judgment has relied on factors such as “collective conscience of society” and “public opinion” in deciding the sentence to be imposed on him and others.

“The impugned judgment is bad in law as subsequent judgments of apex court have definitely changed the law on death sentence in India allowing several convicts similarly placed as him to have their death sentence commuted to life imprisonment,”

It further said that after pronouncement of the Nirbhaya judgment in 2017 there have been as many as 17 cases involving rape and murder in which various three-judge benches of the Supreme Court have commuted the death sentence.

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.

(Source: PTI)

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: After a brief hearing on the review petition filed by Akshay Kumar Singh, one of the convicts in the brutal December 16, 2012, Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, seeking modification and leniency, the 3-judge bench of R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ has rejected the review petition and 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.”

The bench headed by Banumathi, J held that the contentions assailing the case of the prosecution were all raised earlier and upon consideration of evidence, the same were rejected by this Court. Stating that review petition is not for re-hearing of the appeal on re-appreciation of the evidence over and over again, the Court said that a party is not entitled to seek review of the judgment merely for the purpose of rehearing of the appeal and a fresh decision.

The grounds raised in the review petition were:

  • futility of awarding death sentence in Kalyug, where a person is no better than a dead body; and
  • that the level of pollution in Delhi NCR is so great that life is short anyhow and everyone is aware of what is happening in Delhi NCR in this regard and while so, there is no reason why death penalty should be awarded.

The Court said that it was unfortunate that such grounds were raised in the matter as serious as the present case.

During the hearing, the convict’s advocate, Dr. AP Singh had argued that death penalty is a primitive method of punishment and that execution kills the criminals and not the crime. He also said that use of death penalty doesn’t seem to have a deterrent effect to criminals and convicts. He also argued that only the poor and downtrodden are more likely to be sentenced with death sentence. The Court, however, said that

“Such general contentions put forth against the capital punishment cannot be gone into in this review petition.”

On the submission that because of the media pressure, the petitioner and other accused have been falsely implicated, the Court held,

“In a criminal case, culpability or otherwise of the accused are based upon appreciation of evidence adduced by the prosecution and also the evidence adduced by the defence. The materials or the news emerging in the media and press as also the news channels cannot be taken note of in arriving at a conclusion on the culpability of the accused or to test credibility of the witness. Such events cannot be urged as a ground for review.”

On the question of award of death sentence, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the Court that there are certain crimes where “humanity cries” and Nirbhaya case was one of them. He added,

“Convict doesn’t deserve any leniency, God would feel ashamed on creating such monster.”

The Court noticed that the mitigating circumstances elaborated upon by the defence by way of highlighting the comparatively young age of the convicts, their socio-economic background, their unblemished antecedents and their chances of reformation, fade into insignificance. It, hence, held,

“In light of the aggravating circumstances and considering that the case falls within the category of “rarest of rare cases”, the death penalty is confirmed.”

After the Court held that it found no grounds for review of 2017 verdict upholding death penalty of convict, the convict’s advocate, Dr. AP Singh sought 3-weeks’ time to file mercy petition before President. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, however, countered the submission by saying that one week’s time is prescribed under law for filing mercy petition before President. The bench headed by Banumathi, J, however, refrained from expressing view on time frame to file mercy petition and said,

“whatever time is prescribed under law, convict can avail remedy of filing mercy plea within it.”

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.” Writing down a 429 page long judgment, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan, JJ  had noticed that attacking the deceased by forcibly disrobing her and committing violent sexual assault by all the appellants; and insertion of rod in her private parts that, inter alia, caused perforation of her intestine which caused sepsis and, ultimately, led to her death, shows that the accused persons had found an  object for enjoyment in her and, as is evident, they were obsessed with the singular purpose sans any feeling to ravish her as they liked, treat her as they felt and the gross sadistic and beastly instinctual pleasures came to the forefront when they, after ravishing her, thought it to be just a matter of routine to throw her alongwith her friend out of the bus and crush them. The Court said that the casual manner with which she was treated and the devilish manner in which they played with her identity and dignity is humanly inconceivable.

The Court had also rejected the review petition of the other 3 convicts on July 9, 2018.

[Akshay Kumar Singh v. State (NCT of Delhi), 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1653, decided on 18.12.2019]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Akshay Kumar Singh, one of the convicts in the brutal December 16, 2012, Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, has filed a review petition seeking modification and leniency.
Singh was sentenced to death by a trial court on September 13, 2013, for raping and murdering the 23-year-old woman physiotherapist on the chilling cold night of December 16, 2012, in the national capital. His sentence was upheld by the Delhi High Court and finally by the Supreme Court.

The convict — Akshay — in his review petition pleaded and requested the Supreme Court to consider his prayer and review its earlier judgement of May 5, 2017, in which the Court sentenced him to the gallows. Akshay’s lawyer, Dr. AP Singh said,

“We are requesting the apex court to conduct the review petition hearing in an open court,”

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.” Writing down a 429 page long judgment, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan, JJ  had noticed that attacking the deceased by forcibly disrobing her and committing violent sexual assault by all the appellants; and insertion of rod in her private parts that, inter alia, caused perforation of her intestine which caused sepsis and, ultimately, led to her death, shows that the accused persons had found an  object for enjoyment in her and, as is evident, they were obsessed with the singular purpose sans any feeling to ravish her as they liked, treat her as they felt and the gross sadistic and beastly instinctual pleasures came to the forefront when they, after ravishing her, thought it to be just a matter of routine to throw her alongwith her friend out of the bus and crush them. The Court said that the casual manner with which she was treated and the devilish manner in which they played with her identity and dignity is humanly inconceivable.

The Court had also rejected the review petition on July 9, 2018.

(With inputs from ANI)

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Information Commission (CIC): Chief Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava allowed a second appeal for information regarding mercy petition on the grounds that file notings and correspondence sent and received by Ministry of Home Affairs does not form a part of ministerial advice.

In the instant case, an application was filed by the appellant under Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) before Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) to seek information on several points pertaining to mercy petition of her son, who was a death row convict lodged at Yerwada Central Jail. The appellant filed a second appeal as CPIO denied information under Article 74(2) of the Constitution of India and there was no response to her first appeal.

Learned counsel, Ragni Ahuja, on behalf of the appellant contended that information pertaining to ministerial advice is protected under Article 74(2) of Constitution of India. But since the information sought by the appellant did not pertain to Article 74, she had been wrongly denied the said information. The counsel relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, (1994) 3 SCC 1, where the Court allowed the disclosure of not only correspondence but also notings by high constitutional functionaries, so the appellants requested the commission to direct the respondent to provide complete information. 

Learned counsel, Hari Mohan Jha, on behalf of the respondent contended that recommendations along with all documents lead to the formation of ministerial advice to the President of India is privileged under Article 74(2) of the Constitution and the same cannot be disclosed under RTI Act. The counsel relied on the case Union of India v. Central Information Commission, 2009 SCC OnLine Del 879, in which the commission gave directions for disclosure of information relating to correspondence between the former President of India and the then Prime Minister relating to Gujarat riots was set aside.

The Commission opined that file notings and correspondence received or sent by Ministry of Home Affairs pertaining to appellant’s mercy petition does not form a part of the ministerial advice to the President, and the file notings of the mercy petition filed could be provided to the appellant. The Commission observed that the file noting and the correspondence contained the names of the officials recording the same, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of those officials and hence its disclosure was exempted under Section 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act. Relying on S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, (1994) 3 SCC 1, it directed the respondent to provide the information sought after severing all the names and other references which could reveal the identities of the public officials concerned.[Ujwala Kokde v. CPIO, Second Appeal No. CIC/MHOME/A/2017/609431, decided on 12-06-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, MM Shantanagoudar and Indira Banerjee, JJ held

“it needs to be understood that prisoners tend to have increased affinity to mental illness. Moreover, due to legal constraints on the recognition of broad­spectrum mental illness within the Criminal Justice System, prisons inevitably become home for a greater number of mentally­ill prisoners of various degrees. There is no overlooking of the fact that the realities within the prison walls may well compound and complicate these problems.”

It said that the aspiration of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 was to provide mental health care facility for those who are in need including prisoners. The State Governments are obliged under Section 103 of the Act to setup a mental health establishment in the medical wing of at least one prison in each State and Union Territory, and prisoners with mental illness may ordinarily be referred to andcared for in the said mental health establishment.

The Court was hearing a case of a death row convict suffering from post-conviction mental illness. He is on death row since almost 17 years for rape and murder of 2 young girls. The Court was, hence, called upon to decide

• How culpability be assessed for sentencing those with mental illness?
• Is treatment better suited than punishment?\

The Court noticed that there are no set disorders/disabilities for evaluating the ‘severe mental illness’, however a ‘test of severity’ can be a guiding factor for recognizing those mental illness which qualify for an exemption. Therefore,

“the test envisaged herein predicates that the offender needs to have a severe mental illness or disability, which simply means that a medical professional would objectively consider the illness to be most serious so that he cannot understand or comprehend the nature and purpose behind the imposition of such punishment. These disorders generally include schizophrenia, other serious psychotic disorders, and dissociative disorders­with schizophrenia.”

Test of severity of post-conviction mental disability

  • The post­conviction severe mental illness will be a mitigating factor that the appellate Court, in appropriate cases, needs to consider while sentencing an accused to death penalty.
  • The assessment of such disability should be conducted by a multi­disciplinary team of qualified professionals (experienced medical practitioners, criminologists etc), including professional with expertise in accused’s particular mental illness.
  • The burden is on the accused to prove by a preponderance of clear evidence that he is suffering with severe mental illness. The accused has to demonstrate active, residual or prodromal symptoms, that the severe mental disability was manifesting.
  • The State may offer evidence to rebut such claim.
  • Court in appropriate cases could setup a panel to submit an expert report.
  • ‘Test of severity’ envisaged herein predicates that the offender needs to have a severe mental illness or disability, which simply means that objectively the illness needs to be most serious that the accused cannot understand or comprehend the nature and purpose behind the imposition of such punishment.

Mitigation of sentence in case at hand

The Court noticed that the present accused has been reeling under bouts of some form of mental irritability since 1994, as apparent from the records placed before us. Moreover, he has suffered long incarceration as well as a death row convict. It is this state of ‘accused x’ that obliges the State to act as parens patriae. In this state ‘accused x’ cannot be ignored and left to rot away, rather, he requires care and treatment. The Court, hence, held,

“the petition is allowed to the extent that the sentence of death awarded to the Petitioner is commuted to imprisonment for the remainder of his life sans any right to remission.”

[‘X’ v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 543, decided on 12.04.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Dr. AK Sikri, SA Nazeer and MR Shah, JJ has acquitted 6 death row convicts and has directed reinvestigation in a crime that was committed in June, 2003.

The Court was hearing the case where 5 people were brutally killed and a woman was raped. However, the accused were falsely implicated in the matter as they were all nomadic tribes coming from the lower strata of the society and are very poor labourers.

Lapse on part of investigating agency:

Noticing that an injured prime witness identified four named persons from the album of the photographs of notorious criminals but nothing was  on record whether those four persons were arrested or not or any further investigation was carried out with respect to those four persons, the Court said that there was a serious lapse on the part of the investigating agency, which has affected the fair investigation and fair trial, and therefore, the fundamental rights of the accused guaranteed under Articles 20 & 21 of the Constitution of India have been violated. It said:

“The benefit of the lapse in investigation and/or unfair investigation cannot be permitted to go to the persons who are real culprits and in fact who committed the offence.”

The Court, hence, directed the Chief Secretary, Home Department, State of Maharashtra to:

  • look into the matter and identify such erring officers/officials responsible for failure of a prosecution case, on account of sheer negligence or because of culpable lapses, real culprits are out of the clutches of law and because of whose lapses the case has resulted into acquittal in a case where five persons were killed brutally and one lady was subjected to even rape.
  • take departmental action against those erring officers/officials, if those officers/officials are still in service. The instant direction shall be given effect to within a period three months from the date of the order.

The Court also directed the prosecution to conduct further investigation under Section 173(8) against those four persons identified by the injured prime witness so that real culprits should not go unpunished.

Compensation to falsely implicated persons:

The Court also took note of the statement of a psychiatrist who had examined one of the accused who was subsequently found to be a juvenile. The juvenile had clearly opined that he has lived under sub-human conditions for several years. He was kept in isolation in solitary confinement with very restricted human contact and under perpetual fear of death. He was only allowed to meet his mother, and that too only infrequently. He was not even allowed to mix with other prisoners. Therefore, all the accused remained under constant stress and in the perpetual fear of death. As they were facing the death penalty, they might not have availed any other facilities of parole, furlon etc. All of them who were between the age of 25-30 years (and one of the accused was a juvenile) have lost their valuable years of their life in jail. Their family members have also suffered. Considering the aforesaid facts and circumstances, the Court directed:

“The State of Maharashtra to pay a sum of Rs.5,00,000/- to each of the accused by way of compensation, to be deposited by the State with the learned Sessions Court within a period of four weeks from today and on such deposit, the same be paid to the concerned accused on proper identification.”

[Ankush Maruti Shinde v. State of Maharashtra, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 317, decided on 05.03.2019]