Nirbhaya case exposed loopholes in process of law

Nirbhaya case exposed loopholes in process of law

Representative image.

Though the Nirbhaya case has concluded with the execution of four convicts, it has exposed several lacunae in our legal system.

The convicts by filing one plea after another in the trial court, the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court, exploited the loopholes, forcing the trial court to thrice change the date of executions. 

The manner in which the four convicts acted in tandem against the final judgement upholding the death penalty would now necessitate having a relook over the procedure in all such cases. 

Also Read: Kerala artist recollects Tihar art camp with Nirbhaya convict

As of now, filing a curative petition in the Supreme Court is not time-barred. It was seen that the convicts had filed curative petitions one after another when the move was made to get a death warrant issued against them. As far as filing of review petition was concerned, a time limit of 30 days has been fixed under the Supreme Court Rules 2013.

Secondly, the four convicts filed mercy petition one after another just days before the date of execution to frustrate the process, making the trial court to postpone hanging. It is also required to fix a deadline for filing mercy petition after the rejection of the curative petition.

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Notably, the Supreme Court in Shatrughan Chauhan case (2014) fixed a time gap of 14 days between the rejection of mercy petition and date of execution. That is why the convicts filed mercy pleas one after another just days before the date fixed for hanging.

Another aspect highlighted in the Nirbhaya case was if or not the hanging can be carried out separately in the circumstances when all the convicts have been sentenced by a common judgement but only a few of them has exhausted his legal remedies of appeal, review and curative petitions and used constitutional right of mercy petition.  

Also Read: No last wish, no will, no breakfast: A look at the last few hours of Nirbhaya convicts

According to the 1982 SC judgement in the case of Harbans Singh, the convicts can't be hanged until the last person on the death row has exhausted his remedies.

The Union government has already filed an application in the top court for streamlining the process in death penalty cases to make it victim-centric. It was required also to prevent abuse of the process of law by the death row convicts through various dilatory tactics. 

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