SUPREME COURT DISMISSES CURATIVE PETITIONS AND UPHOLDS DEATH PENALTY OF NIRBHAYA CASE CONVICTS

Recently, a 5-Judge Supreme Court Bench has passed an Order dated 14-01-2020, thereby, rejecting the Curative Petitions filed by two of the convicts in the Nirbhaya case, namely, Mukesh Singh and Vinay Sharma, and further, rejecting the Application for stay on execution of death sentence issued by the Trial Court on 07-01-2020.

Earlier, the Fast-Track Court had issued the Order of Death Penalty dated 13-09-2013 to all 4 adult perpetrators, namely, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta (Convicts), in the 2012 Nirbhaya case for the offence of brutal gangrape, unnatural offence and murder of the deceased victim (Nirbhaya), and attempt to murder her male friend. The said Order was upheld by the Delhi High Court on 13-03-2014 and subsequently, by the Supreme Court on 05-05-2017.

Thereafter, three of the Convicts, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta had filed Review Petitions in the Supreme Courtseeking review of the Order of Death Penalty upheld by the Supreme Court on 05-05-2017. But a 3-Judge Bench of the Apex Court dismissed the said Review Petitions vide Order dated 09-07-2018 on the grounds that the submissions and evidences put forward in the Review Plea were the same as in the Appeal in 2017 and that the Petitioners could not be allowed to re-argue the appeal on merits of the case, after the case has already been looked into by the Trial Court, the High Court and the Apex Court at length.

Fearing more delay in execution of death penalty of the 4 Convicts, Nirbhaya’s parents had approached the Patiala House Trial Court on 13-12-2018, seeking execution of the Order of Death Penalty dated 13-09-2013 at the earliest.

Thereafter, one of the Convicts, Vinay Sharma had filed a Mercy Petition with the Delhi Government on 08-11-2019, which was forwarded to the President of India on 06-12-2019. The same is still pending for decision by the President.

Meanwhile, one of the Convicts, Akshay Thakur, filed a Review Petition on 10-12-2019 in the Supreme Court seeking review of the Order of Death Penalty upheld by the Supreme Court on 05-05-2017, which has been dismissed by a 3-Judge Bench of the Apex Court on 18-12-2019, on the grounds that the submissions and evidences put forward in the Review Plea were almost a repetition of what were argued in the Appeal and as such dismissed by the Trial Court, the High Court and the Apex Court.

Thereafter, the Additional Sessions Judge, Patiala House Court in Delhi had issued Death Warrants to all 4 Convicts vide Order dated 07-01-2020 for their hanging on 22-01-2020 at 7 AM, which has been postponed to 01-02-2020 at 6 AM vide Order dated 17-01-2020. The said Order dated 07-01-2020 has been challenged by one of the 4 Convicts, Mukesh Singh, in the Delhi High Court on the ground that the Convicts are still left with a remedy of filing mercy petition with the President, but the  issue of Death Warrants would render their Constitutional Right of seeking mercy from the President infructuous. But the Delhi High Court dismissed their challenge on 15-01-2020, directing them to approach the Sessions Court which passed the Impugned Orderdated 07-01-2020.

Meanwhile, two of the Convicts, Mukesh Singh and Vinay Sharma had filed Curative Petitions in the Supreme Court to review the Order of Death Penalty upheld by the Supreme Court on 05-05-2017, and reconsider their submissions. But a 5-Judge Bench of the Apex Court dismissed both the Curative Petitions on 14-01-2020, on the grounds that there was no violation of principles of natural justice in dismissing the Review Petitions and upholding the Order of Death Penalty on 05-05-2017, and there were no additional contentions of the Convicts in the Curative Petitions that had not been dealt at length by the courts, etc.

Recently, one of the Convicts, Mukesh Singh, had filed a Mercy Petition on 14-01-2020, which has eventually been rejected by the President on 17-01-2020, as per various newspaper reports.

Thus, rest of the Convicts have been left with the following legal remedies which may be exhausted before they are hanged to death on 22-01-2020 at 7 AM:

1)Vinay Sharma- Await the decision of the President about grant or rejection of his Mercy Plea dated 08-11-2019

2) Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta –

i) Curative Petition may be filed in the Supreme Court to review the Order of Death Penalty upheld by the Apex Court on 05-05-2017

ii) Mercy Petition may be filed with the President

Thus, amid nationwide outrage over multiple cases of rape and murder, the country awaits the decision of the President in the mercy petitions, if at all filed by the other Convicts, and the execution of their death sentence on 22-01-2020 at 7 AM in Tihar Jail.

Harini Daliparthy

Senior Legal Associate

The Indian Lawyer

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