SC stays execution of two convicts in Delhi gang-rape

SC stays execution of two convicts in Delhi gang-rape

Special leave petition claimed contradictions in witness accounts

SC stays execution of two convicts in Delhi gang-rape

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the execution of two death row convicts in the gruesome December 16 Delhi gang-rape case.

A bench of Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and N V Ramana admitted the appeal filed by Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh. The court restrained authorities from carrying out their execution while taking into consideration the order passed in the matter concerning two co-convicts, Mukesh and Pawan Gupta.

Before the proceedings, the bench wondered if it could hear the appeal in view of the recent decision taken by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha that all death penalty cases would be looked into by only a three-judge bench.

The court sought the personal presence of a Supreme Court registrar who clarified that no such notification has so far been published in this regard. This prompted the court to go ahead with hearing the case.

Vinay and Akshay had on June 2 approached the apex court seeking stay on their execution and challenging the Delhi High Court verdict that upheld their capital punishment.

They assailed the high court’s verdict of March 13 claiming that there were contradictions in the witnesses’ versions, including that of the victim and her male friend. They claimed the SDM’s statement also could not be relied on as she had deposed that the victim was “comfortable, happy and willing to record her statement”. Her version belied the medical condition of the victim. “If a patient is on ventilator, can she be happy and comfortable?” they questioned in their special leave petition.

The condemned convicts disputed the veracity of the dying declaration of the victim saying the statement made through gestures could not be relied on as she was not fit enough to record her statement. Out of the two petitioners, Vinay reiterated his claim that he was juvenile at the time of the incident — December 16, 2012. Two co-convicts, Mukesh and Pawan, had already filed their petitions in the apex court which had on March 15 stayed their execution.

The Delhi High Court had upheld the conviction and death sentence of four — Mukesh (27), Pawan (20), Vinay Sharma (21), Akshay Thakur (29) awarded to them by the trial court on August 31, last.

It had described their offence as “extremely fiendish” and “unparalleled in the history of criminal jurisprudence” which called for the “exemplary punishment”. Another accused, Ram Singh, had committed suicide during judicial custody in Tihar here, while a juvenile, also involved in the case, was tried separately.

The incident, in which a 23-year-old paramedical student was sexually assaulted inside a private bus, had caused massive outrage in the country. The victim and her male friend were going to her home in south-west Delhi when the incident took place. The girl passed away on December 29 at a Singapore hospital.

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