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Nirbhaya rape convicts still have legal remedies; SC to head plea on Dec 17

One of the accused in the case, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail


A view of the Supreme Court | Photo: PTI
A view of the Supreme Court | Photo: PTI

One of the Nirbhaya's convicts, Pawan Kumar Gupta, lodged in Mandoli jail here, was shifted to Tihar Jail recently, giving rise to the speculation that the convicts would be hanged on December 16. However, the convicts' counsel said that untill all the legal remedies are exhausted, the hanging cannot take place.

AP Singh, convicts' counsel, said that a lot of legal remedies, including the curative petition, are available with the convicts and only after these remedies are exhausted can the execution take place.

Singh said that one of the convicts Vinay Sharma withdrew his mercy plea filed before the President of India. "How can the government go ahead with the execution in view of this? Law is equal to all," Singh said, adding with the legal remedies being available with the convicts, even the government and the jail authorities cannot proceed with the execution of the death penalty.

Counsel of Nirbhaya's parents Jitendra Kumar Jha while speaking to IANS said the execution cannot happen as the review petition filed by one of the convicts Akshay Singh is listed for hearing before the on December 17.

"These legal remedies are delaying tactics by the defence as they want to capture some more breath for themselves," Jha said, adding he would request the court to make this procedure time-bound in order to expedite the execution of the convicts.

The will hear on December 17 the plea filed by one of the four death-row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape-and-murder case seeking review of its 2017 judgement awarding him death penalty.

A three-judge bench would hear next week the plea filed by convict Akshay Kumar Singh, whose lawyer has questioned in the review petition the capital punishment at a time life is getting "short" due to rising pollution.

"Take notice that the following matter (Akshay's review plea) will be listed for hearing on Tuesday the December 17, 2019 at 2 PM before a three judges bench," said a notice which was uploaded on the apex court's website.

The apex court had on July 9 last year dismissed the review pleas filed by the three other convicts -- Mukesh (30), Pawan Gupta (23) and Vinay Sharma (24) -- in the case saying no grounds have been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.

A 23-year-old paramedic student, who came to be known as Nirbhaya, was gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a running bus in south Delhi by six persons and severely assaulted before being thrown out on the road. She succumbed to injuries on December 29 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

One of the accused in the case, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail here.

A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board. He was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.

Akshay's review plea, filed through advocate A P Singh, referred to the health risks due to the rising pollution level in Delhi and said, "Life is going short to short, then why death penalty".

"The state must not simply execute people to prove that it is attacking terror or violence against women. It must persistently work towards systematic reforms to bring about change. Executions only kill the criminal, not the crime...," the review plea said.

The apex court in its 2017 verdict had upheld the capital punishment awarded to them by the Delhi High Court and the trial court in the case.

Akshay, lodged in a jail here, has said in his review plea that death penalty entails "cold blooded killing" and it does not provide convicts the chance to reform.

The plea referred to the moral reasons for abolition of the death penalty and said there was no evidence to show that such a punishment has got a deterrent value.

It also referred to the observations of former Chief Justice of India P N Bhagwati that the convicts, hailing from poor background, are more likely to be sent to the gallows.

"If our criminal justice system cannot guarantee the consistent application of legal standards and the rule of law, then, how can we allow judiciary to decide as to who should live or die," it said.

The plea, strangely, talked about the health risks such as rising pollution level in Delhi and said, "Life is going short to short, then why death penalty."

The plea also talked about the life span of human beings in present age and said that there was no reason to continue with the death penalty.

"Why death penalty? When age is reducing, it is mentioned in our 'Ved', 'Purans' and 'Upanishads' that in the age of 'Satyug' people lived the life of thousand years. In the age of 'Dwapar' they used to live for hundreds of years. But now it is 'Kalyug', in this era, age of human beings have reduced much. It has now come to 50-60 years, and rarely we listen of a person who is in the age of 100 years," it said.

"Very few people reach up to the age of 80-90 years. This is almost a very true analysis. When we look around us then we come to the conclusion, more or less this analysis is true when a person faces the stark realities of life and passes through the adverse situation, then he is no better that a dead body...," said the review plea.

So far as legal remedies are concerned, the three convicts, except Akshay, can still file curative pleas in the top court against their conviction and death penalty in the case.

After exhausting the remedy of filing curative pleas, the convicts can move the President with their mercy pleas and in case of their (mercy pleas) dismissal, the authorities can seek issuance of death warrant from a local court to execute them.

First Published: Thu, December 12 2019. 20:45 IST