Nirbhaya case: Fourth convict files curative plea in SC

Nirbhaya case: Fourth death row convict files curative plea to commute his death penalty to life sentence

Supreme Court of India. (PTI Photo)

One of the four death row convicts in 2012 Nirbhaya case, Pawan Kumar Gupta on Friday approached the Supreme Court with a curative petition for commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment.

He also sought a stay on the execution scheduled on March 3.

Gupta asked the top court to set aside May 5, 2017 judgement which had upheld the death penalty imposed on him and three others.

He contended incomplete evidence was presented before the court and material evidence, including a record on his date of birth certificate, was not put forth. Further, he claimed his plea that he was a minor at the time of the incident was not considered in terms of the procedure laid down in the Juvenile Justice Act.

Maintaining that the plea of juvenility can be raised at any stage and even after conclusion of the proceedings, his petition pointed out that his school register at Ambedkar Nagar district in UP recorded his date of birth as October 8, 1996, which made him 16 years, two months and eight days old at the time of incident in 2012.

The curative petition, like review plea, is decided by judges inside the chamber, without the presence of counsel. The apex court in the 2002 case of Rupa Ashok Hurra vs Ashok Hurra opened an option of filing a curative petition for reconsideration of its final judgement even after dismissal of a review petition, to correct gross illegality.

Notably, a similar plea of juvenility by Pawan was dismissed by the top court in January, this year.

Gupta is the only convict who had not exhausted his legal remedies of filing a curative petition -- last legal remedy available to a person -- and subsequent mercy plea with the President.

The trial court on February 17 issued fresh date for execution of death warrants for March 3 at 6 am for the four convicts -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) -- in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case.

The mercy petitions of three convicts -- Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay -- have already been dismissed by the President.

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