Case BriefsSupreme Court Roundups

2020 has been a year of COVID-19, challenges, and changes. Of many things that this year has taught us, one of the biggest lessons has been our ability to work from home alone – but together! Like most of us, the Courts too took the cue and started functioning via video conferencing when the pandemic hit the World. At first, the Supreme Court restricted it’s functioning to avoid mass gatherings in Courts and directed that only urgent matters will be heard, however, soon all the in-person hearings were completely banned and the Court directed that it would hear “extremely urgent” matters via video conferencing.

Ultimately, faced with the unprecedented and extraordinary outbreak of a pandemic, Supreme Court issued guidelines on functioning of courts through video conferencing. It said that it was necessary that Courts at all levels respond to the call of social distancing and ensure that court premises do not contribute to the spread of virus.

Also read:

When the video conference hearings first began, the Courts and the public at large were skeptical about it’s success, however, the Supreme Court, in October, said that the “the system of Video Conferencing has been extremely successful in providing access to justice.” 

Read: SC says “system of Video Conferencing has been extremely successful”; alters only one guideline from April 6 order

Here are a few unmissable facts and stories from the highest Court of the country:

  • Even though most of the Court functioning took place online and through video conferencing, 696 judgments were delivered in the year 2020 .
  • All the Constitution bench verdicts were unanimous with no dissenting opinion. [Read more]
  • In a first, Single-Judge bench started hearing cases. [Read more]
  • A new dress code was notified for advocates in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. [Read more]
  • 228 advocates registered as Advocates-on-Record of the Supreme Court. [Read more]
  • 2 judges, Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Arun Mishra retired

Read:

Read: “Justice Ramana’s proximity with Mr. Chandrababu Naidu is too well-known”; Read what Andhra Pradesh CM Jagan Mohan Reddy wrote in his letter to CJI

Here’s a quick roundup of all the important Supreme Court judgments:

11 Constitution bench judgments 

  • All the Constitution bench verdicts were unanimous with no dissenting opinion.
  • 9 out of 11 Constitution bench judgments were delivered by benches consisting of Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran and M.R. Shah, followed by Justices Aniruddha Bose and S. Ravindra Bhat who were part of Constitution benches in 5 and 4 cases, respectively.

Read more…


Maintenance in matrimonial disputes| Extensive guidelines framed; Issue of overlapping jurisdiction under different Laws resolved

The bench ofIndu Malhotra and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ framed guidelines on overlapping jurisdiction under different enactments for payment of maintenance, payment of Interim Maintenance, the criteria for determining the quantum of maintenance, the date from which maintenance is to be awarded, and enforcement of orders of maintenance.

Read more…

Also read: Guidelines

[ Rajnesh v. Neha,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 903 ]


Appointments and functioning of Tribunals

A 3-judge bench issued extensive directions in relating to selection, appointment, tenure, conditions of service, etc. relating to various tribunals, 19 in number, thereby calling for certain modifications to the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities [Qualification, Experience and Other Conditions of Service of Members] Rules, 2020.

“Dispensation of justice by the Tribunals can be effective only when they function independent of any executive control: this renders them credible and generates public confidence.”

Read more…

Also read: ‘It’s high time we put an end to the disturbing trend of Govt ignoring our directions.’ Read why Supreme Court directed constitution of National Tribunals Commission

[Madras Bar Association v. Union of India2020 SCC OnLine SC 962 ]


Constitutionality of imposition of GST on lotteries, betting and gambling

Lottery, betting and gambling are well known concepts and have been in practice in this country since before independence and were regulated and taxed by different legislations. When Act, 2017 defined the goods to include actionable claims and included only three categories of actionable claims, i.e., lottery, betting and gambling for purposes of levy of GST, it cannot be said that there was no rationale for including these three actionable claims for tax purposes.

Read more…

[Skill Lotto Solutions v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 990 ]


Homebuyer can choose between seeking remedy under the RERA Act or the Consumer Protection Act

The bench of UU Lalit and Vineet Saran, JJ held that the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016 (RERA Act) does not bar the initiation of proceedings by allottees against the builders under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.

Read more… 

[Imperia Structures v. Anil Patni,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 894 ]


Domestic Violence| Wife’s right to residence in shared household belonging to not just husband but also to his relatives

“The domestic violence in this country is rampant and several women encounter violence in some form or the other or almost every day, however, it is the least reported form of cruel behavior. A woman resigns her fate to the never-ending cycle of enduring violence and discrimination as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a partner or a single woman in her lifetime.” 

Read more…

[Satish Chander Ahuja v. Sneha Ahuja, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 841 ]


Daughters’ coparcenary rights

The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, SA Nazeer and MR Shah, JJheld that daughters have right in coparcenary by birth and that it is not necessary that the father coparcener should be living when the Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act, 2005 came into force.

“The conferral of right is by birth, and the rights are given in the same manner with incidents of coparcenary as that of a son and she is treated as a coparcener in the same manner with the same rights as if she had been a son at the time of birth.”

Read more…

[ Vineeta Sharma v. Rakesh Sharma, (2020) 9 SCC 1 ]


Permanent commission to all women Army officers

The bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has ordered that the permanent commission will apply to all women officers in the Indian Army in service, irrespective of their years of service.

“Underlying the statement that it is a “greater challenge” for women officers to meet the hazards of service “owing to their prolonged absence during pregnancy, motherhood and domestic obligations towards their children and families” is a strong stereotype which assumes that domestic obligations rest solely on women.”

Read more… 

[Ministry of Defence v. Babita Puniya, (2020) 7 SCC 469]


RBI’s ban on Cryptocurrency trading quashed

The 3-judge bench of Rohinton Fali Nariman, S Ravindra Bhat and V Ramasubramania, JJ has struck down the curb on trading in virtual currency, cryptocurrency and bitcoins in India.

In the 180 pages long verdict penned by Justice Ramasubramania, it was held,

“When the consistent stand of RBI is that they have not banned Virtual currencies (VCs) and when the Government of India is unable to take a call despite several committees coming up with several proposals including two draft bills, both of which advocated exactly opposite positions, it is not possible for us to hold that the impugned measure is proportionate.”

Read more…

[Internet & Mobile Assn. of India v. Reserve Bank of India, (2020) 10 SCC 274 ]


Installation of CCTV Cameras in all Police Station

The 3-judge bench of RF Nariman*, KM Joseph and Anirudhha Bose, JJ directed all the States and UTs to install CCTV cameras in all Police Stations and file compliance affidavits within 6 weeks. The Court said that the directions are in furtherance of the fundamental rights of each citizen of India guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, and hence, the Executive/Administrative/police authorities are to implement this Order both in letter and in spirit as soon as possible.

Read more… 

[Paramvir Singh Saini v. Baljit Singh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 983 ]


Automatic expiration of stay 

“Whatever stay has been granted by any court including the High Court automatically expires within a period of six months, and unless extension is granted for good reason, within the next six months, the trial Court is, on the expiry of the first period of six months, to set a date for the trial and go ahead with the same.” 

Read more…

[Also read detailed report on the 2018 verdict in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Pvt. Ltd. v. Central Bureau of Investigation, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 310,  here.]


Political parties to publish criminal antecedents of candidates & give reasons for their selection

A bench of RF Nariman and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ directed all political parties to upload on their website details of pending criminal cases against candidates contesting polls, noting that there has been an alarming increase in criminalisation of politics. The Court said political parties will also have to upload reasons for selecting candidates with pending criminal cases on their website.

Read more… 

[Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora, (2020) 3 SCC 733 ]


SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 constitutionally valid

 A 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and S. Ravindra Bhat, JJ has upheld the constitutional validity of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018, and said that a court can grant anticipatory bail only in cases where a prima facie case is not made out. In the unanimous verdict, Justice Mishra penned the opinion for himself and Justice Saran whereas Justice Bhat wrote a separate but concurring opinion.

Read more… 

[Prathvi Raj Chauhan v. Union of India, (2020) 4 SCC 727 ]


Test for determining non-arbitrability of disputes

The 3-judge bench of NV Ramana*Sanjiv Khanna** and Krishna Murari, JJ overruled the ratio in Himangni Enterprises v. Kamaljeet Singh Ahluwalia, (2017) 10 SCC 706 wherein it was held that landlord-tenant disputes governed by the provisions of the Transfer of Property Act, 1882, are not arbitrable as this would be contrary to public policy.

Read more…

[Vidya Drolia v. Durga Trading Corporation, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1018 ]


Admissibility of electronic evidence without certificate under Section 65B of Evidence Act, 1872

In a reference dealing with the interpretation of Section 65B of the Evidence Act, 1872 that deals with admissibility of electronic records, the 3-judge bench of RF Nariman, S. Ravindra Bhat and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ held that the certificate required under Section 65B(4) is a condition precedent to the admissibility of evidence by way of electronic record, as correctly held in by the 3-judge bench in Anvar P.V. v. P.K. Basheer, (2014) 10 SCC 473, and incorrectly “clarified” by a division bench in Shafhi Mohammad v. State of Himachal Pradesh, (2018) 2 SCC 801. The Court further clarified that the required certificate under Section 65B(4) is unnecessary if the original document itself is produced.

Read more…

[Arjun Panditrao Khotkar v. Kailash Kushanrao Gorantyal, (2020) 7 SCC 1 ]


Advance tax ruling system

The bench of SK Kaul and Indu Malhotra, JJ has recommended the Central Government to consider the efficacy of the advance tax ruling system and make it more comprehensive as a tool for settlement of disputes rather than battling it through different tiers, whether private or public sectors are involved. It suggested that a council for Advance Tax Ruling based on the Swedish model and the New Zealand system may be a possible way forward.

Writing two postscripts, the Court said that it was forced to do so on account of the backbreaking dockets which are ever increasing and as a move towards a trust between the Tax Department and the assessee.

Read more… 

[National Co-operative Development Corporation v. Commissioner of Income Tax, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 733 ]


Telecos get 10 years to pay AGR dues

Asking Telecom Operators to make the payment of 10% of the total AGR dues as by 31.3.2021, the 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, SA Nazeer and MR Shah, JJ gave 10 years to the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) to complete the payment of their AGR dues.

Read more…

[Union of India v. Assn. of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India, (2020) 9 SCC 748 ]


All petitions challenging the IBC provisions relating to personal guarantors transferred to Supreme Court

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code is at a nascent stage and it is better that the interpretation of the provisions of the Code is taken up by the Supreme Court to avoid any confusion.

Read more…

[Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India v. Lalit Kumar Jain,  2020 SCC OnLine SC 884 ]


The final order that sealed the fate for the Nirbhaya convicts

Putting the last nail in the coffin for the Nirbhaya death row convicts, 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 took place late at night at 2:30 AM.

Read more…

Also read:

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


Shaheen Bagh Protests

“Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. The present case was not even one of protests taking place in an undesignated area, but was a blockage of a public way which caused grave inconvenience to commuters. We cannot accept the plea of the applicants that an indeterminable number of people can assemble whenever they choose to protest.” 

The 3-judge bench of SK Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, JJ has, in the Shaheen Bagh protests matter, held that while there exists the right to peaceful protest against a legislation, public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied in such a manner and that too indefinitely.

Read more…

[Amit Sahni v. Commissioner of Police, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 808 ]


Farmers’ protest

“Indeed the right to protest is part of a fundamental right and can as a matter of fact, be exercised subject to public order.”

Refusing to interfere with the ongoing Farmers’ protest, the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ said that the farmers’ protest should be allowed to continue without impediment and without any breach of peace either by the protesters or the police.

Read more…

[Rakesh Vaishnav v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1032 ]


Sushant Singh Rajput Death Case

When truth meets sunshine, justice will not prevail on the living alone but after Life’s fitful fever, now the departed will also sleep well. Satyameva Jayate.”

A single judge bench of Hrishikesh Roy, J has held the ongoing investigation by the CBI to be lawful and further directed that if any other case is registered on the death of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput and the surrounding circumstances of his unnatural death, the CBI is directed to investigate the new case as well.

Read more… 

[Rhea Chakraborty v. State of Bihar, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 654 ]


Scandalous allegations against Supreme Court judges

After finding advocates Vijay Kurle, Nilesh Ojha and Rashid Khan Pathan guilty of levelling scandalous allegations against Justice RF Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran, the bench of Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, JJ has sentenced all 3 to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of 3 months each with a fine of Rs. 2000/-. It further said that in default of payment of fine, each of the defaulting contemnors shall undergo further simple imprisonment for a period of 15 days.

Read: 

[Vijay Kurle, In re, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 407  and Rashid Khan Pathan v. Vijay Kurle, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 711]


Vikas Dubey Encounter

After Vikas Dubey, a history-sheeter and gangster-turned-politician, was killed in a police encounter on July 10, 2020, the Supreme Court gave a go ahead to Inquiry Committee headed by Former SC judge Justice B S Chauhan.

Later,  a 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and AS Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian, JJ refused to scrap the Judicial Committee constituted to look into the killing of Vikas Dubey and said that the allegations of bias made against the members of the Commission merely on the basis of newspaper reports and nothing more, are liable to be rejected outright.

“ … the Chairman and a Member of the Commission had held high Constitutional positions and while making allegations the petitioner has based his claim only on the newspaper report and the manner in which the averments are made in the application is unacceptable.”

Read: 

[Ghanshyam Upadhyay v. State of Uttar Pradesh2020 SCC OnLine SC 587 and 2020 SCC OnLine SC 658 ]


Prashant Bhushan Contempt proceedings

Twitter row

The 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Krishna Murari, JJ has, in a 108-pages long verdict, held advocate Prashant Bhushan guilty of criminal contempt in the suo motu contempt petition initiated against him after he criticised the Supreme Court and the sitting and former CJIs in a couple of tweets. It held,

The tweets which are based on the distorted facts, in our considered view, amount to committing of ‘criminal contempt’. 

The Court, however, sentenced Bhushan with a fine of Rupee 1 for his contemptuous tweets and said

“If we do not take cognizance of such conduct it will give a wrong message to the lawyers and litigants throughout the country. However, by showing magnanimity, instead of imposing any severe punishment, we are sentencing the contemnor with a nominal fine of  Re.1/­ (Rupee one).”

Read:

[Prashant Bhushan, In re, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 646 and  2020 SCC OnLine SC 698 ]

Tehelka contempt

In another contempt proceeding against Bhushan, after refusing to accept the explanation of advocate Prashant Bhushan in the 2009 contempt petition against Advocate Prashant Bhushan and former Tehelka Tarun Tejpal, the 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and MR Shah, JJ framed larger questions in the matter that will have far-reaching ramifications.

Read more… 

[Amicus Curiae v. Prashant Bhushan, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 651 ]


Kunal Kamra and Rachita Taneja contempt cases 

The 3-judge bench of Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah, JJ issued notice to cartoonist Rachita Taneja and comedian Kunal Kamra in two separate cases relating contemptuous social media posts.

Read more…

[Shrirang Katneshwarkar v. Kunal Kamra2020 SCC OnLine SC 1041 and Aditya Kashyap v. Rachita Taneja, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 1042 ]


Here’s the list of some of the important COVID-19 Orders/Direction issued by the Supreme Court:

“Even if one survives from COVID-19, many times financially and economically he is finished.”

“To a worker who has faced the brunt of the pandemic and is currently laboring in a workplace without the luxury of physical distancing, economic dignity based on the rights available under the statute is the least that this Court can ensure them.” 


Also read:

2020 Roundup: 11 Constitution bench judgments, 17 judges, Zero dissent

 

Know thy Judge

Hon’ble Mrs. Justice R. Banumathi born on 20-07-1955 was the sixth woman to be a Judge of the Supreme Court of India and on her last working day as the Supreme Court Judge, we remember her contributions to the Judicial system and to the society.

A brief background on Justice Banumathi’s journey to becoming the 6th woman judge of the Highest Court of the Country:

  • Originally from Tamil Nadu, Justice Banumathi enrolled as an advocate in 1981 and practiced on Civil and Criminal sides in Tirupattur and District Court, Krishnagiri, Harur and moffusil courts.
  • entered Tamil Nadu Higher Judicial Service in 1988 as a direct recruit ‘District Judge’ and worked as District and Sessions Judge in Coimbatore, Vellore and Principal District and Sessions Judge, Pudukottai, Madras, Tirunelveli and Salem.
  • also worked as Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Madras and as a District Judge dealt with number of landmark cases and also led One-Man Commission on Police Excess by STF in Chinnampathy village, Coimbatore District in 1995-1996.
  • was elevated as Judge, High Court, Madras on 03-04-2003. She was Executive Chairman of the Tamil Nadu State Legal Services with effect from 15-07-2013; Chairman of Madras High Court Legal Services Committee from 21-02-2011 to 20-01-2012 and was actively involved in Legal Services and organizing Lok Adalats.
  • was appointed as the Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court on 16-11-2013.
  • was elevated as a Judge of the Supreme Court of India on 13-08-2014
  • also became the second woman after Justice Ruma Pal to be a part of the Supreme Court collegiums in the last thirteen years.

Did you know?

Justice R. Banumathi has always been interested in continuing judicial education for Judicial Officers and strengthening Judicial Systems, she has organized various training and induction programmes for different judicial batches from time to time along with authoring “Hand Book of Civil and Criminal Courts Management and use of Computers” for guidance of judicial officers and staff members.

Some of her notable judgments include:

  • Muniasamythevar v. Dy. Superintendent Of Police [2006 SCC OnLine Mad 306] where she held that that all types of Jallikattu, bullock cart races and oxen races causing cruelty to animals must be banned by the Tamil Nadu government. She further directed the state police to ensure prevention of cruelty to animals under the guise of such entertainments.
  • Modern Dental College & Research Centre v. State of M.P. [(2016) 7 SCC 353] where she authored the concurring opinion in the five-judge Bench judgment The judgment ruled in favour of the Madhya Pradesh Government, holding that regulation of private unaided colleges does not necessarily violate the fundamental right to free occupation under Article 19(1)(g). The Act under challenge prescribes for a compulsory State administered common entrance exam, fee fixation and reservations. The petitioners had argued that this amounted to excessive State interference in an autonomous private educational institution. She further observed that as providing education is positive duty of the State, it has an obligation to regulate private institutions to ensure they are providing quality education.
  • Mukesh v. State (NCT of Delhi) [(2017) 6 SCC 1] famously known as the “Nirbhaya Judgment” she had authored a separate concurring opinion which prescribed the death penalty for the accused. She stated that the accused’s actions fell within the ‘rarest of rare’ category.
  • Bir Singh v. Delhi Jal Board [(2018) 10 SCC 312] where the majority had held that candidates from all States and Union lists could apply to the Delhi Jal Board, as it was administered by the Union. Justice Banumathi dissented, distinguishing between posts for which recruitment was carried out by the Union government and those for which it was carried out by the NCT. She observed that for posts where the recruitment was done by a Union Territory (or the NCT), only SC/STs specified the Presidential Order for that territory may apply.
  • Chief Information Commissioner v. High Court of Gujarat [2020 SCC OnLine SC 285] Recently in a significant ruling on the applicability of the Right to Information Act, 2005 to the courts, she held that the Act cannot override the Gujarat High Court rules, in so far as requesting pleadings is concerned she further reasoned that that as the current High Court rules already have a system for obtaining pleadings, citizens cannot rely on the RTI Act to request them. The judgment is likely to set the precedent for all other High Courts and the Supreme Court itself.

It’s not easy being a successful representative and in 69 years of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Banumathi has been one of the 6 women judges giving remarkable judgments and pouring her wisdom for others to follow.

Hot Off The PressNews

All four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, namely, Mukesh, Akshay, Vinay, and Pawan, were sent to the gallows at 5:30 AM today after the last bid to defer hanging was rejected by the Supreme Court in a hearing that took place less than 2 hours before the scheduled hanging. A hearing marathon took place before the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court where the convicts’ counsel AP Singh urged the Court to stay the execution.

During the almost mid-night hearing, the Delhi High Court said,

“We’re close to the time when your client will meet the God. Don’t waste time. We’ll not be able to help you in the eleventh hour if you cannot raise an important point. You have only 4-5 hours.”

However, when the counsel was unable to prove his point, the High Court said that it found no foundation in the plea and confirmed the scheduled hanging. Following which, the counsel approached the Supreme Court, where again the petition was dismissed. The roughly 45 minutes long hearing took place at 2:30 AM.

The Crime

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.

“The accused not only abducted the victim, but gang-raped her, committed unnatural offences by compelling her to perform oral sex, bit her lips, cheeks, breast and caused horrifying injuries to her private parts by inserting iron rod which ruptured the vaginal rectum, jejunum and rectum.”

The incident generated widespread national and international coverage and was widely condemned, both in India and abroad. Subsequently, public protests against the State and Central governments for failing to provide adequate security for women took place in New Delhi, where thousands of protesters clashed with security forces. Similar protests took place in major cities throughout the country. Since Indian law does not allow the press to publish a rape victim’s name, the victim was widely known as Nirbhaya, meaning “fearless”, and her struggle and death became a symbol of women’s resistance to rape around the world.

One of the six 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.

The Verdict

On May 5. 2017, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ., R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan, JJ. unanimously awarded death sentence to all 4 accused and said, [Mukesh v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2017) 6 SCC 1 : (2017) 2 SCC (Cri) 673] at SCC p. 261 para 518:

“The gruesome offences were committed with highest viciousness. Human lust was allowed to take such a demonic form. The accused may not be hardened criminals; but the cruel manner in which the gang rape was committed in the moving bus; iron rods were inserted in the private parts of the victim; and the coldness with which both the victims were thrown naked in cold wintery night of December, shocks the collective conscience of the society.”

Stating that if any case warranted award of death sentence, it was the Nirbhaya case, the Court said (SCC p. 261 para 518),

“If the dreadfulness displayed by the accused in committing the gang rape, unnatural sex, insertion of iron rod in the private parts of the victim does not fall in the “rarest of rare category”, then one may wonder what else would fall in that category.”

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.

How the Nirbhaya case changed the law in India

  • On 22 December 2012, a judicial committee headed by Former Chief Justice of India, Justice S. Verma, was appointed by the Central government to submit a report within 30 days to suggest amendments to criminal law to sternly deal with sexual assault cases. The committee urged the public in general and particularly eminent jurists, legal professionals, NGOs, women’s groups and civil society to share “their views, knowledge and experience suggesting possible amendments in the criminal and other relevant laws to provide for quicker investigation, prosecution and trial, and also enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault of an extreme nature against women.”

A report was submitted after 29 days, after considering 80,000 suggestions received during the period. The report indicated that failures on the part of the government and police were the root cause behind crimes against women. Suggestions in the report included the need to review the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in conflict areas, and setting the maximum punishment for rape as death penalty rather than life imprisonment. However, the committee did not favour lowering the age of a juvenile from 18 to 16.

  • On 26 December 2012, a Commission of Inquiry headed by former Delhi High Court judge Usha Mehra was set up to identify lapses, determine responsibility in relation to the incident, and suggest measures to make Delhi and the wider National Capital Region safer for women.
  • On 1 January 2013, a task force headed by the Union Home Secretary was established to look into women’s safety issues in Delhi and review the functioning of the city police force on a regular basis.
  • On 3 February 2013, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 was promulgated by President Pranab Mukherjee which provided for amendment of the Penal Code, Evidence Act, and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, on laws related to sexual offences. The ordinance provides for the death penalty in cases of rape. According to Minister of Law and Justice Ashwani Kumar, 90 percent of the suggestions given by the Verma Committee Report were incorporated into the Ordinance. However, critics state that many key suggestions of the commission have been ignored, including the criminalisation of marital rape and trying military personnel accused of sexual offences under criminal law. The said ordinance was repealed by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 which brought important changes to the penal laws of india with respect to crimes committed against women.
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 was passed which replaced the Indian juvenile delinquency law, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and allows for juveniles in conflict with Law in the age group of 16–18, involved in Heinous Offences, to be tried as adults.

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]

 

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

Supreme Court: A bench headed by Justice NV Ramana has agreed to hear Central government’s appeal against Delhi High Court order, which rejected its plea to separately execute the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case. The Court slated the matter for hearing on Friday after the Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, appearing for the Central government, mentioned the matter before the Court for an urgent hearing.

The Centre had challenged in the Supreme Court Delhi High Court’s order rejecting its plea for separately executing the four convicts in the case. The government, in the Supreme Court, contended that under the Delhi Prison Rules of 2018 the pendency of legal remedies or mercy petitions of other co-convicts would have no bearing on the fate of a convict whose plea for mercy has already been rejected. It said that the 2018 Rules does not prohibit the execution of death sentence of co-convicts, one by one, on the rejection of their respective mercy petitions.

Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, had told the Delhi High Court that the convicts were playing with the judiciary. He said,

“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.”

The Centre, in its plea before the Supreme Ccourt, contended that deferring the execution of death sentence of all the four convicts, specifically when Mukesh’s mercy plea has already been dismissed by the President, has led to a gross miscarriage of justice to the victim’s family as well as the society as a whole.

Delhi High Court had, on Wednesday, granted a week’s time to the four death row convicts to avail all legal remedies available to them and said that the convicts cannot be hanged separately since they were convicted for the same crime. The High Court had passed the order while hearing petitions filed by the centre and Tihar jail authorities challenging the Patiala House Court’s order which had stayed “till further order” the execution of the four convicts in the matter. The Delhi High Court had held that the 2018 Rules observe that pendency of any application filed by one convict would necessarily require the postponement of the death sentence of all his co-convicts, even those whose mercy plea had
been rejected.

Meanwhile, President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday also rejected the mercy petition of the third convict, Akshay Thakur, in the gangrape and murder case, which took place on the intervening night of December 15-16, 2012.

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 refused to review it’s order dated 21.01.2020 wherein it had dismissed the SLP filed by Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya Gang rape case, “reagitating” the plea of juvenility. The order of the Court read,

“We have perused the Review Petition and the connected papers carefully and are convinced that the order, of which review has been sought, does not suffer from any error apparent warranting its reconsideration.”

The Court , in the order dated 21.01.2020, had 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.

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. The execution was scheduled for tomorrow i.e. 01-02-2020.

[Pawan Kumar Gupta v. State of NCT of Delhi, REVIEW PETITION(Crl.) No. 59/2020, decided on 31.01.2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

A Delhi Court postpones the execution of death convicts in the Nirbhaya case till further orders. The execution which was scheduled for tomorrow i.e. 01-02-2020 has now stayed.

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana reserved its order on the two applications moved by the counsel of the convicts – A.P. Singh and Vrinda Grover.

During the course of hearing, Singh (Counsel for the convicts) said that a mercy plea has been filed on behalf of one of the convicts – Vinay Kumar.

Saying only one convict’s plea is pending and the others can be hanged, Tihar Jail authorities challenged the application of three condemned prisoners in the case seeking a stay on their execution.

The convicts’ lawyer disagreed with the jail authorities and said rules dictate that when one convict’s plea is pending the others cannot be hanged.

Tihar jail authorities filed a status report in the matter and informed the court that the convicts can be hanged separately adding that convict Mukesh Singh has exhausted all the legal remedies available to him.

Advocate Seema Kushwaha, representing the victim’s side, said that the convicts herein are adopting delay tactics to thwart the speed of justice.

[Story to be updated]


[Source: Media Reports]

[Image Credits: ANI]

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)

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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]

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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: In a bid to make criminal justice system responsive in cases relating to sexual assaults, a 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ has sought information with regard to status of affairs at ground level from various duty holders like investigation agencies, prosecution, medico-forensic agencies, rehabilitation, legal aid agencies and also Courts to get a holistic view.

Taking note of the fact that post Nirbhaya incident, which shocked the conscience of the nation, many amendments were introduced in criminal law redefining the ambit of offences, providing for effective and speedy investigation and trial, the Court noticed that still the desired results were not achieved and that as per the latest report of National Crime Records Bureau of Crime in India in the year 2017, total 32,559 cases of rape were registered in India. It said,

“The Nirbhaya case is not an isolated case where it has taken so long to reach finality. In fact, it is said that it has been one of the cases where agencies have acted swiftly taking into account the public outrage.”

Here are some of the most important information sought by the Court:

Registration of FIR by woman police officer

  • whether all the Police Stations have a woman police officer or woman officer to record the information of the victim?
  • whether provisions are available for recording of first information by a woman police officer or a woman officer at the residence of the victim or any other place of choice of such person in case the victim is temporarily or permanently mentally or physically disabled?

Failure of a public servant to record any information of sexual assault offences

  • whether any case has been registered under the Section 166A of IPC against any public servant?
  • whether there is any mechanism in place to complain about the non-recording of information by the officer giving cause to offence under Section 166A with any other institution/office, other than the concerned police station?

Medical treatment and examination of the victim

  • whether any advisory or guidelines have been issued by the authorities to all the hospitals and medical centres in this regard?
  • whether the medical experts have done away with the Per-Vaginum examination commonly referred to as ‘Two-finger test’ and whether any directions have been issued by the states in this regard?
  • whether medical experts have done away with the practice of giving opinion on the previous sexual experience of the victim or any directions have been issued by the states in this regard?
  • whether the Medical Opinion in the cases relating to rape and similar offences is being given in tune with definition of rape under Section 375 of IPC as it stands today?
  • whether the states have adopted the Guidelines & Protocols of The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India or have they prepared their own Guidelines & Protocols?
  • whether requisite Medico-forensic kit are available with all the hospitals/health centres run by the Government or by local authorities?

“Medical treatment and examination of the victim is a very important aspect not only for the immediate relief to the victim but also provides intrinsic evidences for the trial.”

Completion of Investigation

  • whether police is completing the investigation and submitting the final report within a period of two months from the date of recording of information of the offence and if no, reasons for delay?

Trial before a woman judge

  • whether trial of cases relating to rape are being conducted by Courts presided over by a woman?
  • whether sufficient number of lady judges are available to preside over the Courts dealing with sexual offences and rape?
  • whether all courts holding trial of cases relating to offence of rape have requisite infrastructure and are conducting in camera trial?
  • whether the trial relating to cases of rape is being completed within a period of two months from the date of filing of charge-sheet, if not, the reasons for the delay?

Victim and witness protection

  • whether any policy of victim/witness protection in the cases relating to rape is framed and implemented?
  • whether police protection is being provided to the victim during investigation and trial of the offence?
  • whether the trial Courts have taken appropriate measures to ensure that victim woman is not confronted by the accused during the trial as mandated by Section 273 Cr.P.C.?

“The protection of witness during the investigation and trial is essential in cases of this sensitive nature. Many a times the accused live in proximity of the victim. The possibility of tampering with evidence and pressurizing the witness affects fair trial.”

Utilisation of Nirbhaya Fund

In the year 2013, a separate fund namely Nirbhaya Fund for projects of women safety to support initiatives by government and NGOs was created. The Court called for the status of utilization of the Nirbhaya Fund by Central or State Government(s).

Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra will assist the Court as Amicus Curiae in the matter and the matter will next be taken up on 07.02.2020.

[In re: Assessment of the Criminal Justice System in response to Sexual Offences, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1654, order dated 18.12.2019]

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]

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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)