'Delay in closure of Nirbhaya case unfortunate'

'Delay in closure of Nirbhaya case unfortunate'

Human rights activists on Wednesday rued the delay in closure of the Nirbhaya case as unfortunate and said such holdups rob victims' families of the feeling of justice, even though many of them advocated the abolition of the death penalty.

A death warrant for hanging the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape-and-murder case will not be issued by a city court for now as it gave a week's time on Wednesday to know whether they are filing mercy petitions, hours after the Supreme Court dismissed the last review plea against the capital punishment.

Social activist Ranjana Kumari said such inordinate delay has resulted in more and more women being targeted and justice should have been delivered faster, especially in such cases.

Responding to a question if the death penalty is the solution, she said the law of land should prevail. "Maximum punishment should be given in case of rape and murder but if that punishment is the death penalty or not, is a matter of huge debate," she said.

Shabnam Hashmi, a founding member of ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy), said she was strongly against the death penalty. "Returning violence with violence cannot be considered justice. The maximum punishments must be rigorous life imprisonment," she said.

On the delay in issuing of death warrants of convicts, Hashmi said if a case involving Kashmir can be delayed, then any case can be delayed.

Annie Raja, women activist and general secretary of National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), said the judicial process is becoming a "tamasha" because of lengthy trials.

"I insist on surety and severity of punishments which do not mean just the death penalty. It includes judicial reforms, legal reforms, getting more forensic laboratories and more resources. Without all these systems, there is no point of setting fast-track courts," she said.

"Courts come at the last stage. For that, the government should have some understanding. The government has no clue how to implement legislation that is why Nirbhaya fund is lying unutilised. The government lacks clarity and vision," Raja said.

Chhavi Methi from the Bharatiya Samajik Jagritik Sanghatan said justice delayed is justice denied.

"Convicts have been pronounced guilty, why they are not being punished. It is a wrong example to be set by this delay. Justice delayed is justice denied," Methi said.

Nirbhaya's mother broke down outside the Patiala House court on Wednesday after the court adjourned for January 7 the hearing on the issuance of death warrants.

"We have been fighting for seven years and the court has not considered our rights when giving this decision. There is no guarantee that a final judgement will be delivered on the next hearing as well," she told reporters.

Six persons, including a juvenile, had raped and brutally assaulted a 23-year-old paramedic student inside a moving bus in south Delhi on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012.

The victim, who came to be known as Nirbhaya, died on December 29, 2012, at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

Four of the convicts -- Mukesh (30), Pawan Gupta (23), Vinay Sharma (24) and Akshay Kumar (33) -- were sentenced to death in 2017. While one convict committed suicide, a juvenile was convicted by a juvenile justice board, and released from a reformation home after serving a 3-year term.

Akshay Kumar's review petition was rejected by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

On July 9 last year, the court had dismissed the review pleas filed by the other three convicts -- Mukesh (30), Pawan Gupta (23) and Vinay Sharma (24) -- in the case.

Mukesh's lawyer M L Sharma on Wednesday said he is examining the option of filing a curative petition against the July 9, 2018 court order.

A curative petition is the last legal recourse available to a person and it is generally considered in-chamber.

After that, the convicts can file a mercy petition before the President. 

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