SC rejects review plea of Nirbhaya convict Akshay Singh

SC rejects review plea of Nirbhaya convict Akshay Singh

Representative image. (PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a review petition filed by one of the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya case of gang rape and murder, saying there was no error apparent in its judgement of 2017 which had found that the case fell in the category of the rarest of rare and confirmed the death penalty.

A three-judge bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna said that the grounds raised by Akshay Kumar Singh were “almost repetition of the arguments made in earlier review petitions which were rejected and, cannot be raised repeatedly”.

The top court termed as “unfortunate” that he raised grounds like – futility of awarding death sentence in 'Kalyug', where a person is no better than a dead body; and that the level of pollution in Delhi NCR was so great that life is short anyhow – in the matter as serious as the present case.

It also rejected his contention that the death penalty was the ultimate denial of human rights and that it violated the right to life and went against the principle of non-violence.

“He put forth the general case that only the poor and downtrodden are more likely to be sentenced with the death sentence. Such general contentions put forth against the capital punishment cannot be gone into in this review petition,” Justice Banumathi said, in a 20-page judgement delivered after more than 30-minute mandatory hearing.

The court declined to consider his counsel A P Singh's arguments on lack of professional investigation, media and public pressure and authenticity of test identification parade and dying declaration of the victims etc.

He also cited a book “Black Warrant” by Sunil Gupta, a former law officer of Central Jail, Tihar, Delhi on “murder” of prime suspect Ram Singh inside the prison.

The court, however, said, “The opinion not supported by any material, cannot be a ground for reviewing our judgment.”

Pointing out to SC Rules, the court said, “scope of review is limited and it cannot be entertained except in cases of error apparent on the face of the record.”

“Review is not a rehearing of the appeal over again. In a review petition, it is not for the court to re-appreciate the evidence and reach a different conclusion,” it added.

Singh, who was the cleaner of the bus, sought to review the judgment of May 5, 2017, passed by which the top court confirmed the conviction and death penalty imposed upon him and three other convicts by the trial court as well as by Delhi the High Court.

The court also refused to pass any order on his plea for granting three weeks time to him to file the mercy petition with the President. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the mercy can be filed within 7 days. 

The 23-year-old paramedic student was brutally gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a running bus in South Delhi. She had died on December 29, 2012, at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

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