Monday, December 11, 2023

Supreme Court dismisses review petitions challenging acquittal of death row convicts in Chhawla rape and murder case

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The Supreme Court has dismissed a batch of review petitions against its November 2022 judgment acquitting three death-row convicts in the 2012 Chhawla gangrape and murder case.

Although the order was passed on March 2, the Apex Court published it on the website today.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Bela M Trivedi found that none of the pleas in the batch of review petitions had mentioned any error on the grounds on which the top court’s judgment can be sought.

The Court said that after having considered the judgment and other documents on record, it did not find any error either factual or legal, apparent on the face of record requiring review of the aforestated judgment passed by this Court.

The Court also rejected the argument advanced by the State that one of the accused had committed a murder after his release from prison following the top court’s acquittal.

The review plea had argued that the accused is a hardened criminal who has abused the benevolence of the court.

The Court made it clear that even if an event, which has no nexus to the instant case had taken place subsequent to the pronouncement of the judgment, it would not be a ground to entertain the review petitions.

On November 9, 2012, the accused abducted the 19-year-old girl while she was returning home from her work place. Police later found her mutilated body near Rewari in Haryana on February 14 with multiple wounds. Autopsy revealed that the girl was brutally attacked, raped and acid was poured in her eyes

The case was termed as ‘rarest of rare’ in 2014 by a trial court and the accused were awarded death penalty. The accused then approached the Delhi High Court, which dismissed their appeals and affirmed the sentence of death on August 26, 2014.

The accused then moved the Supreme Court against the judgment of the High Court. The Apex Court set aside the previous judgments regarding conviction and sentence awarded to the accused and allowed their appeals in the case.

Earlier on November 5, the parents of the victim had filed a review petition, challenging the decision of the Supreme Court to acquit the three accused. They said after the Supreme Court verdict, they have not only lost the battle after fighting for justice to their daughter, but also lost the will to live.

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