Sunday, April 2, 2023

Nirbhaya case: Convict Vinay Sharma moves SC against rejection of mercy plea

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Vinay Sharma, one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, approached the Supreme Court on Tuesday against the rejection of his mercy petition by the President.

Sharma, through his counsel A P Singh, also pleaded for the commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment.

President Ram Nath Kovind had on February 1 dismissed the mercy plea of Sharma.

On January 31, the trial court had stayed “till further orders” the execution of the four convicts in the case — Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31), who are lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail.

According to the prosecution, Singh has exhausted all his remedies, including mercy plea and the challenge to its rejection in the apex court., while Gupta has not yet filed a curative petition — the last and final legal remedy available to a person which is decided in-chamber. Gupta has also the option of filing a mercy plea.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Centre to move the trial court for issuance of fresh death warrants against the four condemned prisoners.

A bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna also asked the convicts to furnish their response on the Centre’s appeal challenging the Delhi High Court order which dismissed its plea against stay on their execution.

It observed that the pendency of the appeal filed by the Centre and Delhi government before it would not be an impediment for the trial court in issuing a fresh date for the hanging of the convicts.

The court would hear the matter on February 13.

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted, “Execution of Nirbhaya case convicts is not for enjoyment, we are executing the mandate of the law.”

Earlier, Mehta had told the court that the “nation’s patience is being tested” in the matter and the bench will have to lay down a law on the issue.

A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as ”Nirbhaya”, was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.

Six people, including the four convicts, Ram Singh and a juvenile — were named as accused.

The trial of the five adult men began in a special fast-track court in March 2013.

Ram Singh, the prime accused, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in Tihar jail days after the trial began. The juvenile, who was said to be the most brutal of the attackers, was put in a correctional home for three years.

The juvenile was released in 2015 and sent to an undisclosed location amid concerns over a threat to his life. He, when released, was 20 years old.

The trial of the four adults began in a special fast-track court in March 2013 and they were sentenced to death in September 2013 by the trial court.

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