Supreme Court dismisses review petition of Nirbhaya convict, upholds death penalty

Legal News, National, New Delhi, December 18:- The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the plea filed by one of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, seeking review of its 2017 judgement upholding his death penalty.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice R Banumathi said there are no grounds to review the verdict and the contentions raised by convict Akshay Kumar Singh were already considered by the top court in the main judgement.

Opposing the review plea, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi government, told the bench also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna, that there are certain crimes where “humanity cries” and this is one of them.

“There are certain crimes where God would feel ashamed in not saving the child (victim) and in creating such a monster. The death penalty does not deserve to be set aside for such crimes,” Mehta said.

He also said that convicts in the Nirbhaya case are making concerted efforts to “delay the inevitable” and the law must take its own course as soon as possible.

Advocate AP Singh, appearing for the convict, had told the court that the age of citizens in Delhi-NCR is reducing due to air and water pollution and there was no need to award death penalty to the convict.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had recused himself from hearing the petition and adjourned the matter till Wednesday.

A special bench comprising the CJI and Justices Banumathi and Bhushan commenced hearing on the review plea Akshay, 33, while asking his lawyer A P Singh to conclude the submission within half-an-hour.

After hearing the submissions for a few minutes, the CJI learned the fact that his lawyer-nephew had earlier appeared in a related case on behalf of the mother of the deceased victim.

“List these matters on December 18, before another Bench of which Hon’ble the Chief Justice is not a member,” the bench said in the order.

On Tuesday, the apex court in its administrative order decided to set up a 2-judge committee of Justices Subhash Reddy and M R Shah to look into the issue of expeditious disposal of rape cases across the country.

Akshay had sought clemency arguing life in Delhi is anyway becoming short due to rising air and water pollution.

On July 9 last year, the apex court had dismissed the review pleas filed by the other three 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.

The 23-year-old paramedic student was gang raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a moving bus in south Delhi by six persons 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.

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.

The top 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.

“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…,” said Akshay in the review plea, filed through advocate Singh.

Akshay, lodged in a jail here, has further said that death penalty entails “cold blooded killing” and does not provide convicts the chance to reform themselves.

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.

The convicts, except Akshay Kumar Singh, 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 send their mercy pleas to the President.

In case the pleas are dismissed, the authorities can seek death warrants from a local court to execute them. (NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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