Nirbhaya: SC reserves verdict on convict Mukesh's plea

Nirbhaya: SC reserves verdict on death row convict Mukesh's plea, to be delivered Wednesday

Reuters file photo

The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its order for Wednesday on a plea by a death row convict, Mukesh K Singh in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case against the rejection of mercy petition by the President on January 17.

The court pointed out it had limited power of judicial reviews as it can only examine if the relevant records were placed before the President.

A bench of Justices R Banuamthi, Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna took into record two original files, one on correspondence for consideration of the mercy petition and another on the notings, furnished by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

Senior advocate Anjana Prakash, along with senior advocate Rebecca M John and advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Mukesh, contended that President's rejection of mercy plea was based on extraneous consideration and without application of mind. It was mala fide, arbitrary and without materials.

Certain supervening circumstances, including solitary confinement and procedural lapses, sexual assault inside jail, were ignored in the decision making.

“How can you say there is non-application of mind in the decision taken by the President, warranting judicial review,” the bench asked, even as the counsel maintained the substantial materials were not provided to the constitutional authority in the performance of his constitutional duty.

Vehemently opposing the contention, Mehta said abuses, even if presumed to be true, cannot be a ground to question rejection of mercy petition. He also said expeditious disposal of the matter cannot be raised to challenge it, since the apex court had already held that each day's delay had a dehumanising effect on the death row convict. He said the convict was kept in a separate room and it can't be called as solitary confinement.

Senior advocate Prakash claimed that the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs was evasive and did not explain as to what relevant records were sent to the President for consideration of mercy plea.