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Delhi court rejects Nirbhaya convict Vinay Sharma’s plea of mental illness

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A Delhi court on Saturday dismissed for lack of merit the plea of Vinay Sharma, one of the death-row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya case, seeking high-level medical treatment for mental illness and injuries.

Sharma’s petition was dismissed by Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana, who had earlier in the day reserved the order after hearing the counsels for the prosecution and the convict.

“It is evident that the convict is not only being provided regular medical care but regular supportive therapy/sessions is being conducted for him by the specialists psychiatry. I do not have any plausible reasons to disbelieve the report of two responsible medical experts,” the judge said.

“I have also seen the CD provided by the jail authorities where in the convict is seen conversing with his counsel and family members. The apparent tone and tenor of the convict is not suggestive of any abnormal behaviour, rather it convincingly corroborates the opinion of the medical experts,” the court said.

It said general anxiety and depression in case of a death-row convict was obvious and evidently medical treatment and psychological help have been provided to him.

The judge did not find any ground to refer Sharma to Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) or any other hospital at this stage.

“The application is accordingly dismissed for want of merits. The jail superintendent is once again directed to ensure adequate care of the convicts as per rules,” the order noted.

Judge Rana quoted the report of special psychiatrist Dr Vivek Rustagi and Dr Akash Narade that although the convict was observed to be occasionally anxious, agitated and restless, he responded well to the supportive therapy conducted by the special psychiatrist.

“The overall impression of his psychological condition is reported to be that of ‘malingering’. It is reported that the general condition and vitals of inmate is stable and satisfactory,” he added.

During the hearing today, prosecution lawyer Irfan Ahmed had told the court that Sharma’s contention was a “bundle of lies” and that the injuries sustained by him were “self-inflicted”.

“The convict is regularly examined. The vitals are intact. All injuries are self-inflicted and superficial,” he said.

Ahmed apprised the court that Sharma, who complained of pain in the right hand and head, was attended to immediately following his call for medical aid.

The counsel contended that Sharma subsequently rammed his head on the wall of his cell in Tihar jail and was given medical aid.

The prison authorities also submitted the CCTV footage in the court, saying Sharma’s claim was a “bundle of distorted facts”.

Ahmed said there is no medical history of mental instability of Sharma as claimed by the convict’s counsel AP Singh.

“He (Sharma) is not medically unfit, not recognising his mother and doctors are all false allegations. He had made two phone calls recently to his mother and his lawyer, so why is his lawyer claiming that the convict is not even in the position to identify his mother,” he added.

In the previous hearing, Singh had told the court that his client suffers from mental illness, schizophrenia and has failed to recognise his counsel and family.

In the proceedings today, Singh submitted that the jail authorities were mistreating his client and facts were being concealed.

“There has been concealment of the facts by the authorities. The facts which suited their case have been provided while the rest of the facts have been concealed. The time when Vinay was not able to recognise his mother has been concealed and that CCTV footage has not been provided,” he said.

On February 17, the court fixed March 3 as the fresh date of the hanging of the four convicts in the case – Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur.

A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as ”Nirbhaya”, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later at 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 during the trial. 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 four were sentenced to death in September 2013 by the trial court.

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