Nirbhaya case: Convicts to hang at 5:30 am as SC rejects last-minute plea

Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur were convicted on charges of brutally raping and assaulting a 23-year-old paramedical student inside a bus that led to her death. Photo: PTI

In a night-long proceedings over the execution of the Nirbhaya death row convicts' hanging, Supreme Court rejected Pawan Gupta's curative petition against rejection of second mercy plea by President Ram Nath Kovind.

A bench comprising Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna rejected the fervent plea of Pawan Gupta that his mercy plea had been wrongly rejected by the President without considering the fact that he was a minor at the time of offence in 2012.

"The consistent view of this court is that scope for review of President's decision in mercy petitions is very limited," the bench said.

"What are the grounds on which you are challenging rejection of mercy plea by President...You had relied on school certificate to claim juvenility and are using it again and again. You are asking us to review judgement, your juvenility claim has been rejected by lower court, Delhi High Court and us as well," it said.

Pawan Gupta's plea sought court's directions declaring that the rejection of the second mercy petition by the President on March 19 as unconstitutional and bad in law.

The plea claimed that there is further new evidence which shows that the state has concealed certain facts in the case from the court.

"The state had issued notice on February 26, 2017, to the principal of Pawan's school seeking all documents pertaining to his date of birth. It appears that this notice and its response have been kept from this court," it alleged.

The plea said that Pawan had specifically pointed to his school records and the date of birth recorded therein through the affidavit filed with the apex court in compliance with its orders of February 3, 2017.

"This order also made it clear that the prosecution is given liberty to put forth in the affidavit any reputation, after the copies of the affidavits by the counsel for the accused persons are served on him. For the said purpose, a week's time was granted. However, despite this opportunity, the status report filed in response to the petitioner's (Pawan) affidavit did not deny the petitioner's claim of being a juvenile on the date of the incident," the plea said.

The petition also sought commutation of his death sentence into life imprisonment.

On March 5, the trial court issued fresh warrants for hanging on March 20 at 5.30 am of all convicts in the case - Mukesh Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Singh (31).

A 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 she was thrown out on the road.

One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail in 2013.

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.

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