Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Putting the last nail in the coffin for the Nirbhaya death row convicts who were hanged this morning, the 3-judge bench of R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, JJ dismissed the plea file by Pawan Kumar Gupta challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President on the ground that his plea of juvenility had not been finally determined and this aspect was not kept in view by the President of India while rejecting his mercy plea.

The hearing that took place late at night at 2:30 AM.

The Court rejected Pawan’s plea of juvenility and held that the said plea has already been duly considered and rejected by the Courts before and there was no need to go into it again.

On the contention that due to torture in the prison the petitioner had sustained head injuries and that he was sutured with more than 10 sutures and proper treatment was not given to the petitioner, the Court held,

“The alleged torture, if any, in the prison cannot be a ground for judicial review of the executive order passed under Article 72 of the Constitution of India rejecting the mercy petition.”

On the ground that petitioner might not have shared the common intention along with other co­-accused and that he cannot be imposed the grave capital punishment, the Court said that the said ground has been considered both by the Trial Court as well as the High Court and by this Court and the petitioner Pawan Kumar Gupta has been found guilty and convicted.

Hence, dismissing the petition the Court concluded,

“when the power is vested in the very high contitutional authority, it must be presumed that the said authority had acted carefully after considering all the aspects of 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. The friend with whom Nirbhaya boarded the bus was also beaten, gagged and knocked unconscious with an iron rod by the accused. He suffered broken limbs but survived.

[Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State of NCT of Delhi,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 340, decided on 20.03.2020]


Also read:

[Midnight Hearing of the Gruesome – Nirbhaya Case] |Petition of death row convict Pawan Gupta against rejection of his mercy petition and seeking stay on execution — dismissed

7 years later, finally, a closure for Nirbhaya’s family; All 4 convicts hanged to death

Hot Off The PressNews

President rejects the mercy petition of Pawan Gupta one of the convicts in Nirbhaya Case.

A Delhi court had deferred till further orders the March 3 execution of the four convicts after one of the convicts Pawan Gupta filed mercy petition before the president.

Advocate AP Singh who represented the Nirbhaya Convicts had filed the mercy petition on behalf of Pawan Gupta.


[Source: ANI]

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: A bench head by R. Banumathi, J has reserved the order on the issue of rejection of mercy petition of Vinay Kumar Sharma, one of the convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case. The bench will pronounce the verdict tomorrow at 2:00 PM.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Delhi government, said that convict Vinay Sharma was not kept in solitary confinement as it was argued by convict’s lawyer AP Singh in the Supreme Court.

“He was not kept in solitary confinement, as argued by advocate AP Singh. There is a limited scope of judicial review, as the President of India had rejected the mercy petition after SC reserved order duly considering and applying his mind,”

He further added,

“The Home Minister did not do it (dispose off the matter) immediately, as the Joint Secretary and Home Secretary discussed the matter in a detailed manner. The crime committed by the convict, Vinay Kumar Sharma, fell in the rarest of the rare category and did not fall in the category of mercy,”

Lawyer, AP Singh, representing Vinay, had earlier argued that the convict was kept in illegal confinement and “illegally tortured” in Tihar Jail. He argued,

“Vinay Sharma was kept in illegal confinement. He was illegally tortured in Tihar jail prison. I am here only to seek justice, where can I go for justice? That is why I am pleading here before the court for justice. They are not terrorists, they are not habitual offenders. These are the grounds for mercy to these convicts,”

He claimed that there has been a history of physical assaults on Vinay.

“Vinay had been sent for psychiatric treatment on many occasions. The petitioner has suffered adverse mental condition and faced immense trauma,”

The lawyer added,

“Vinay should have been treated with proper medical treatment for his poor mental health. He was provided complete medical treatment for his mental illness.”

Singh added that the “non-application” of mind by President of India is one ground for commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment.

“Why the mercy petition is rejected by the President of India so hurriedly? What is the need of doing it so hurriedly by the President of India.? Justice hurried is justice buried. Bifurcation of crime, committed by accused (convict) persons, was not done properly by the investigation team in the case,”

Vinay filed the petition in the top court against President Ram Nath Kovind’s decision to reject his mercy plea. The convict, through his lawyer AP Singh, has requested the death penalty to be commuted to life imprisonment. On February 1, Vinay’s mercy petition was rejected by the President.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Case BriefsSupreme Court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(With inputs from PTI)

Hot Off The PressNews

Update on the Case:

Delhi High Court commenced proceedings in regard to hearing a challenge placed by the Centre after the 4 convicts execution was “stayed” by Delhi’s Patiala House Court.

Centre had challenged the stay on the execution of the convicts, which was scheduled for 01-02-2020.

As reported by PTI, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that: there is a deliberate, calculated and well thought of design by the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case convicts to “frustrate mandate of law” by getting their execution delayed.

Senior advocate Rebecca John, representing the fourth convict Mukesh Kumar, raised a preliminary objection on the Centre’s plea saying it was not maintainable.

Mehta told Justice Suresh Kait that convict Pawan Gupta’s move of not filing a curative or a mercy petition is deliberate, calculated inaction.

Delhi High Court reserved the Judgment on the same.


[Source: PTI]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Sanjay Kumar Dwivedi, J. contemplated the mercy petition filed by a petitioner who sought re-employment in a Coal Company.

Counsel for the petitioner Ranjan Kumar Singh, submitted that petitioner was dismissed from services on the ground of absent for 58 days and that after dismissal, the petitioner, who is an illiterate person, approached the authorities for re-employment in terms of the scheme but his representation was not considered in the true spirit of the Scheme.

On the contrary, the counsel for the respondent Company submitted that the petitioner had filed the representation after nine years of his dismissal, thus, the writ was liable to be quashed due to delay.

The Court observed that the petitioner was an illiterate person, as it was evident from the representation he had filed with the respondents-authorities on which he gave his thumb impression, and he wasn’t able to understand the legal impediment of approaching at a belated stage. Hence, his claim was not denied solely on the ground of delay and needs consideration.[Dulal Bouri v. BCCL, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 804, decided on 08-07-2019]

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 mercy petition is the last hope of a person on death row. Every dawn will give rise to a new hope that his mercy petition may be accepted. By night fall this hope also dies.” – Deepak Gupta, J

The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana, Deepak Gupta and Indira Banerjee, JJ commuted the death sentence of a man who was convicted for killing his wife and 5 children due to the the un­explained delay of 4 years in forwarding the mercy petition by the State of Madhya Pradesh leading to delay of almost 5 years in deciding the mercy petition.

The Court said that it has repeatedly held that in cases where death sentence has to be executed the same should be done as early as possible and if mercy petitions are not forwarded for 4 years and no explanation is submitted, it cannot but hold that the delay is inordinate and un­explained. The Court noticed:

“there not only was there a long, inordinate and un­explained delay on the part of the State of Madhya Pradesh but to make matters worse, the State of Madhya Pradesh has not even cared to file any counter affidavit in the Writ Petition even though notice was issued 4 years back on 18.11.2014 and service was effected within a month of issuance of notice.”

The Court also took note of the fact that the petitioner has now been behind bars for almost about 14 years as he was convicted on April 24, 2006. It, hence, held that regardless of the brutal nature of crime this is not a fit case where death sentence should be executed and it commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment. However, keeping in view the nature of crime and the fact that 6 innocent lives were lost, the bench directed that life imprisonment in this case shall mean the entire remaining life of the petitioner and he shall not be released till his death. [Jagdish v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 250, decided on 21.02.2019]

High Courts

Allahabad high Court: While holding “Surendra Koli” (Convict) guilty of committing murder of “Rimpa Haldar”, the division bench of D.Y. Chandrachud C.J. and P.K.S Baghel J. allowed the petition and held that the execution of the sentence of death on the convict would amount to infringement of his right to life under Article 21 of the COI due to the unwarranted delay caused in the disposal of the mercy petition. The Court also observed that a prolonged delay in the execution of the sentence of death has dehumanizing effect on the convict and as a well settled principle of our constitutional jurisprudence is regarded as a deprivation of the right to life itself.

The Court in the instant case discussed the issue of  avoidable delay by the authorities concerned in disposing the mercy petitions under Article 72 or Article 161 of the COI and referred series of Supreme Court cases including Shatrughan Chauhan v. Union of India (2014) 3 SCC 1, V. Sriharan v. Union of India (2014) 4 SCC 242, Navneet kaur v. Union of India (2014) 7 SCC 264, which held that (i) inordinate delay in the disposal of mercy petitions would render the process of execution of the death sentence arbitrary (ii) convict who complains of avoidable delay in the execution of the death sentence is not required to produce evidence of suffering caused on account of delay (iii) considerations for commutation of the death such as gravity of the crime or extraordinary cruelty would not be relevant and finally observed that delay in rejection of mercy petition was avoidable, prolonged and unnecessary.

The Court while considering whether convict is responsible for the delay further observed that convict is not responsible for the delay of three and half years which authorities concerned took in disposal of mercy petition under Articles 72 and 161 of the COI and therefore entitles him for claiming relief under the head of delay. Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) v. Union of India, , decided on 28.01.2015