SC rejects Nirbhaya convict Akshay's curative petition

SC rejects Nirbhaya convict Akshay's curative petition

The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed the curative petition of one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case saying "no case is made out".

The top court also rejected convict Akshay Kumar Singh's plea seeking stay of his execution.

"The application for oral hearing is rejected. The application for stay of execution of death sentence is also rejected," said the 5-judge bench which heard the plea in-chamber.

"We have gone through the Curative Petitions and the relevant documents. In our opinion, no case is made out within the parameters indicated in the decision of this Court in Rupa Ashok Hurra vs. Ashok Hurra & Another, reported in 2002 (4) SCC 388. Hence, the Curative Petitions are dismissed," the bench said.

The bench comprised Justices N V Ramana, Arun Mishra, R F Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan.

Akshay had filed curative plea in the apex court Wednesday saying that capital punishment is being awarded by courts as "panacea" in the face of public pressure and public opinion on violence against women.

Curative petition is the last legal recourse available to a person in a court of law.

Akshay said the apex court "in its confidence of handing out the death penalty as 'proportional' punishment on the basis of how brutal the crime is, exposes the inconsistency of this court and all other criminal courts in this country that have handed out the death penalty as panacea for public pressure and public opinion on violence against women, despite no evidentiary link between its selective application and reduction in crime".

He also contended that as many as 17 cases involving rape and murder in which various three judge benches of the apex court have commuted the sentence of death.

Akshay now has the option to move a mercy plea before the President. He was the third convict to move the curative plea after Mukesh Kumar Singh and Vinay Kumar Sharma.

Curative petitions filed by Vinay and Mukesh in the case have already been dismissed by the apex court. The fourth convict, Pawan Gupta, has not filed the curative petition, which he still can if he chooses.

The trial court on January 17 issued black warrants for the second time for the execution of all the four convicts in the case -- Mukesh (32), Pawan (25), Vinay (26) and Akshay (31) -- in Tihar jail at 6 am on February 1. Earlier, on January 7, the court had fixed January 22 as the hanging date.

As of now only Mukesh has exhausted all his legal remedies including the clemency plea which was dismissed by President Ram Nath Kovind on January 17 and the appeal against the rejection was thrown out by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice R Banumathi on Wednesday held that "quick consideration" and "swift rejection" of Mukesh's mercy petition does not suggest non-application of mind or it being pre-determined.

Their victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern who came to be known as "Nirbhaya" (the fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.

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