After a Delhi Court issued the execution date of the convicts in the heinous Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case on January 8, the Supreme Court bench today rejected the curative petitions filed by two out of the four convicts. The bench comprising of Justices N V Ramana, Arun Mishra, R F Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan collectively discarded the curative pleas of Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh saying that there was no merit in their applications. The two convicts urged for reconsideration of the death penalty.
Vinay Sharma's curative petition
Convict Vinay Sharma's lawyer, A P Singh, on January 9 filed the curative petition for his client stating that he was only 19 when he committed the crime. He added that his young age and socio-economic factors might be the acting factors in the crime. The plea also noted 17 cases of rape and murder, to date, where the death penalty was commuted to life imprisonment.
Two convicts - Pawan Gupta and Akshay Singh have still not filed their curative plea.
The gangrape and murder case of 23-year-old paramedic Jyoti Singh Pandey aka Nirbhaya on December 12, 2012, created ripples around the globe. It not only led to judicial changes but also promulgated dialogue around women's safety and gender sensitization across the country. In this case, a total of six persons were convicted - Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Kumar Singh, Ram Singh and one juvenile person. Of these while Ram Singh committed suicide inside Tihar Jail in 2013, the juvenile person walked free in 2016 after finishing three years in a correction home. The SC upheld the verdict of the death sentence for the rest of the convicts in 2018.
Asha Devi and Lawyer Seema Sammriddhi speak
When SheThePeople spoke to Asha Devi, the mother of the victim, minutes before the beginning of SC proceedings in the curative petition filed by the convicts she imposed that she was certain that their pleas would be rejected. "Already their review pleas have been dismissed. The case is like an open book in front of the Supreme Court so I am convinced that the curative plea would also be declined," she says.
On the fact that they still have their last legal recourse of mercy petition before their execution, she asserts, "They can go wherever they can go in these 14 days because the court has clearly given this period for them to file their curative petition and mercy plea. The court and the government have to decide now whether the hanging will happen on January 22 or not but I feel that the hanging will happen."
Her lawyer, Seema Sammridhi also said that there was no ground for mercy in their curative plea so it had to be rejected. On if the hanging date could be delayed on the grounds of not exhausting all of their legal remedies, would there be a delay in execution, she says, "Maybe, if they go for mercy petition then the delay could happen but 99 per cent we believe that they will be hanged on the same day."
"They can go wherever they can go in these 14 days because the court has clearly given this period for them to file their curative petition and mercy plea. The court and the government has to decide now whether the hanging will happen on January 22 or not but I feel that the hanging will happen."
On the plea of a feminist collective Saheli Women who have signed mercy petition to be sent to the President to commute the death sentence to a lifetime in prison, Sammridhi is of the view, "They oppose death penalty on grounds of human rights which comprises of basic needs, education, health, a dignified right of life, but someone who has committed such a heinous crime where the SC has called it a 'rarest of rare' crime then should they have human rights? If they still want to go for mercy plea for them they may certainly do so. But it is extremely contradictory as on the side, they ask for the protection of women and on the other hand, when a convict gets a judicial punishment, then you also challenge that. But I don't think their petition should be accepted."
Picture credit- Zee News