Nirbhaya case: Death penalty is cold-blooded killing, convicts tell SC

NEW DELHI: Convicts in the December 16, 2012, gang-rape case on Friday pleaded for mercy before the Supreme Court which reserved its verdict on the review petitions of two of the four convicts staring at the gallows.

Nirbhaya case: Death penalty is cold-blooded killing, convicts tell SC

People take out a candle march in the memory of the victim of the December 16 gang-rape, in New Delhi. PTI file

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 4

Convicts in the December 16, 2012, gang-rape case on Friday pleaded for mercy before the Supreme Court which reserved its verdict on the review petitions of two of the four convicts staring at the gallows.

Requesting a three-judge Special Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra to spare them the gallows, their counsel AP Singh said, “Death penalty is cold-blooded killing in the name of justice.”

Singh, who represented convicts Vinay Kumar and Pawan Kumar, pleaded that they were young men coming from poor families who should be given a chance to reform. “Execution kills criminals and not the crime,” he submitted.

“They are not habitual offenders and have no past criminal records…The court must allow them to be reformed,” Singh told the Bench, which also included Justice R Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan.

Singh’s submission was countered by senior counsel and Special Prosecutor Siddharth Luthra who said it was the rarest of the rare case and the convicts should be sent to the gallows.

The top court had on May 5, 2017, upheld a Delhi High Court verdict confirming the death penalty awarded by the trial court Mukesh Kumar (29), Pawan Kumar (22), Vinay Sharma (23) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) for raping a 23-year-old para-medical student inside a moving bus in South Delhi on December 16, 2012.

The girl was returning home along with her male friend after watching a movie. They had beaten up her friend before taking turns to rape her. She had later died in a hospital in Singapore due to injuries inflicted on her private parts by them.

There were six accused in the case. Bus driver Ram Singh had allegedly committed suicide in Tihar jail, while the lone juvenile accused was tried before a juvenile court and sent to a reformatory for three years. He has since been released from the reform home. The rest four were convicted and sentenced to death.

While the top court reserved verdict on review petitions of Vinay and Pawan on Friday, it has already reserved its verdict on review petition of convict Mukesh. Akshay hasn’t filed any review petition.

While reserving its verdict, the Bench asked Luthra and Singh to file their written submissions by Tuesday.

As Singh said death penalty had been abolished in many countries. The CJI replied: “Death penalty exists on the statute book.”

Timeline

December 16, 2012: Six men, including a juvenile, gang-rape a 23-year-old para-medical student in a moving bus; insert rod in her private parts and throw her on road

December 29, 2012: Victim succumbs to her injuries in a Singapore hospital, triggering nationwide protests

March 11, 2013: Main accused Ram Singh commits suicide in Tihar jail

August 31, 2013: Juvenile Justice Board finds lone juvenile accused guilty of rape and murder; sentences him to three-year stay in a reformatory.

September 13, 2013: Four accused sentenced to death by a Delhi Sessions court

March 13, 2014: A Division Bench of Delhi HC upholds trial court verdict awarding death penalty to convicts

March 15, 2014: SC stays execution of convicts after they allege denial of fair trial

May 05, 2017: SC upholds death penalty awarded to the four convicts by Delhi high court in 2014

May 4, 2018: SC reserves verdict on review petitions of three of them who sought leniency.

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