Supreme Court rejects Nirbhaya convict's plea seeking death penalty review
The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the review petition filed by one of the convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya rape and murder case. The convict, Akshay Kumar Singh, had recently filed for review of his death sentence in a petition claiming the pollution in Delhi is killing him anyway. Singh is one of the four men awaiting the death penalty in the Nirbhaya case.
The newly constituted three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice R Banumathi and also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, observed that there have been no flaws in the investigation so far, as argued by the convict's lawyer. The court held, "We do not find any error on the face of the record," dismissing the plea.
According to Bar&Bench, SC observed, "The grounds (for review) raised are identical to the ones raised in the review petitions filed in this case by other convicts which were dismissed then." The court added, "So far as the flaws in the investigation, all these things have been considered by the trial court, High Court and then it was confirmed by this court too."
Akshay Singh's counsel, Dr. AP Singh, requested three weeks' time to file mercy petition for the convict before President Ram Nath Kovind. Appearing for Delhi state, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the stipulated time for mercy petition before the President is one week. The SC held that the petitioner may avail the relief of mercy petition within the stipulated time.
Earlier in the day, Advocate Singh had argued in court that his client was "falsely implicated," describing him as an "innocent and poor man" and claiming he was convicted under public and political pressure. He dismissed the submissions made by key witness Amarinder Pandey as "unreliable." He also questioned the victim's dying declaration, saying it was "tutored" and called to abolish death penalty altogether.
Meanwhile, SG Mehta argued, "The convict doesn't deserve any leniency. God would feel ashamed of creating such a monster. There are certain crimes where 'humanity cries' and this case is one of them."
In 2013, a fast-track trial court in Delhi had sentenced Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Kumar, Akshay Kumar Singh, and Pawan Gupta, to death. In 2014, the Delhi High Court upheld the trial court's verdict and in 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the same. In 2018, the apex court rejected review pleas filed by Mukesh Kumar, Gupta, and Sharma against its 2017 verdict.
On December 16, 2012, six men, including a minor, gang-raped a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in Delhi. The victim was penetrated with iron rods, and suffered such catastrophic injuries, that her intestines had been pulled out. She died during treatment. Ram Singh, the fifth accused, died in jail in 2013, while the juvenile spent time in a reformation home and was released.