SC junks attempts made by Nirbhaya convicts, to be hanged tomorrow

Nirbhaya convicts to be executed tomorrow | Photo: PTI

The Supreme Court Thursday trashed the desperate attempts by three of the four death-row convicts, scheduled to be hanged at 5.30 am on Friday in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, to escape the gallows.

Just a day before the scheduled execution, the top court one after the other dismissed three pleas filed by Pawan Gupta, Mukesh Singh and Akshay Singh including two petition that were filed today itself.

The fourth convict Vinay Sharma has not filed any petition after he exhausted all his legal remedies including the mercy petition with the President.

At the start of the day's business, six judges of the top court took up the curative petition filed by Pawan against the dismissal of his juvenility claim by the apex court on January 31 in the review petition, and on January 20 in the appeal against the Delhi High Court order.

A six-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana dismissed the plea, saying "no case is made out".

"The application for oral hearing is rejected. We have gone through the curative petition and the relevant documents. In our opinion, no case is made out... Hence, the curative petition is dismissed," said the bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, RF Nariman, R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna.

The curative and review petitions are usually taken up by the top court during lunch break and considered by the judges in chambers.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice R Banumathi then took up two separate petitions filed by convict Mukesh and Akshay on Thursday itself at 2.30 PM and heard these at length.

The bench, also comprising Justices Bhushan and Bopanna, heard advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, appearing for Mukesh at length and dismissed his plea against the dismissal of his claim by the Delhi High Court that he was not in the city when at the time of crime on December 16, 2012.

Sharma said there are documents which show that he was in Karoli, Rajasthan, at the time of offence and after the crime he was brought to Delhi by the police.

The bench, refused to consider any new evidence at this level and said that everything was considered by the trial court after which it gave a detailed decision and it was upheld by the High Court and the Supreme Court.

"All points raised by the accused were considered and appeal dismissed. Review petition, considered and dismissed. Therefore, instant petition is dismissed," the bench said in its order.

The same bench thereafter took up for hearing the third petition filed by Akshay challenging the rejection of his second mercy petition by the President on the ground that there was no application of mind.

The top court after hearing advocate A P Singh, appearing for Akshay, said that no ground was made out in the plea for judicial review of the decision rejecting the mercy petition.

Akshay had filed the second mercy petition on Wednesday which was rejected by the President on Thursday. He had filed his first mercy plea on January 29 which was rejected on January 31 by the President.

Singh contended that the court should consider that

Akshay was put in solitary confinement, subjected to torture by the police and jail inmates which shows he suffered from trauma and mental illness.

He said that several Union ministers and Delhi government ministers have given press interviews that the convicts in the case be hanged and therefore the rejection of Akshay's mercy petition by the President was influenced.

The top court however rejected all the grounds raised in the petition and said that it did not find any ground that there was non application of mind by the President while rejecting Akshay's mercy plea.

It said that the ground of judicial review of rejection of mercy petition by the President is very limited and court has to only look whether there was proper application of mind or not.

The court also rejected the ground that a divorce petition filed by Akshay's wife was pending before a family court, saying pendency of these petitions cannot be a ground for staying the death warrants.

The petition also mentioned pending pleas for remission filed before Delhi Lieutenant Governor and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. However, the court refused to consider it as a reason to stay death warrants.

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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