SC dismisses Delhi rape convicts' review pleas

Nirbhaya's mother Asha Devi shows victory sign after the Supreme Court's verdict on Dec 2012 gang rape case, in New Delhi on Monday, July 9, 2018. The apex court upheld the death sentence of the three convicts in the case. PTI Photo

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the review petitions filed by three convicts against the death penalty for the “horrific” rape and murder of a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus in Delhi in 2012.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan said no ground has been furnished by the convicts to enable the court to exercise its review jurisdiction.

The court also said sufficient time was given to the petitioner-convicts during the hearing of appeal, which continued for 38 days, and all their submissions were elaborately dealt with.

It rejected pleas by Mukesh, Vinay Kumar Sharma and Pawan Kumar Gupta for reconsideration of the May 5, 2017 judgement. The court’s order would leave the convicts with a curative petition, the last window of opportunity, against the capital punishment, besides the mercy petition with the President. The fourth convict Akshay Kumar Singh has not yet filed the review petition.

Writing two separate judgements on behalf of the bench, Justice Bhushan said, “Several countries have abolished death penalty is no ground to efface the death penalty from the statute book of our country. So far, death penalty remains in the penal code. The court cannot be held to commit any illegality in awarding death penalty in appropriate cases.”

The bench agreed to Delhi police counsel, senior advocate Sidharth Luthra’s contention that the petitioners cannot be allowed to re-argue the appeal on merits by pointing out certain evidence and materials, which were on record and were already looked into by the trial court, high court and this court as well.

Advocate for Sharma and Gupta, A P Singh contended that the death penalty in India was to be abolished as was done in many other countries, since it also went against the principle of non-violence. He contended the investigation in the case was undertaken in a maladroit effort to book the innocent and to cover up the inefficiency of the Delhi police in catching the real culprits. He raised other grounds like three dying declarations did not inspire confidence and the DNA test was not accurate. He also claimed Vinay was a minor on the date of the incident.

Counsel M L Sharma for convict Mukesh contended that the death penalty was against the right to life. Among others, he claimed the convict was not driving the bus and he was picked up from Rajasthan but his arrest was shown in Delhi.

Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, representing the Delhi police, said that the review petitions were nothing but an effort to re-argue the case appeals on merits which were not permissible under law.

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SC dismisses Delhi rape convicts' review pleas

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