New Delhi, February 8
The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to set up a three-judge Bench to hear a petition filed by the Delhi Police seeking review of its verdict acquitting three men awarded death penalty for the gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman in Delhi’s Chhawla area in 2012.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said the new Bench would consider granting an open court hearing to the review petition after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta made a request for it.
Review petitions are generally heard “in chamber” -- and not in an open court -- by a procedure called “hearing by circulation” where advocates representing the parties are not allowed to argue. But in exceptional cases, the top court allows open court hearing if convinced about its need.
On behalf of the Delhi Police, Mehta submitted that one of the accused acquitted by the top court on November 7 last year recently murdered an auto-rickshaw driver by slitting his throat.
"What I am saying is that all these accused, who were acquitted, are hardened criminals. Therefore, we are seeking review of last year's verdict”, Mehta said.
"An 18-year-old was raped, mutilated, killed. There were objects inserted in private parts. Death penalty was awarded by the Delhi High Court and trial court. This court acquitted them…After the acquittal, one of the accused slit the throat of someone else,” he said.
As the Solicitor General said a three-judge Bench led by the then CJI UU Lalit had pronounced the verdict, CJI Chandrachud said he would constitute a Bench of himself and Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Bela M Trivedi to hear the review petition.
The Delhi Police had in December last year filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking review of its verdict acquitting three men awarded death penalty in the case.
"The prosecution has to bring home the charges levelled against them beyond reasonable doubt, which the prosecution has failed to do in the instant case,” a three-judge Bench led by the then CJI Lalit had said in its November 7 verdict.
However, the Delhi Police submitted that the medical evidence and scientific report conclusively proved the culpability of the accused.
Contending that there was no iota of doubt regarding the medical evidence against the three accused, the Delhi Police said the top court failed to appreciate the medical and scientific evidence on record which was prima facie sufficient to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.
“The chain of evidence so far pinpoints the guilt of the accused. The circumstantial evidence in the present case is so cogent that it leaves no ground for reasonable doubt,” they said, terming it a "cold-blooded and heinous crime".
The victim’s parents have also moved the top court seeking review of the acquittal verdict, contending that many crucial facts were not brought to notice of the Supreme Court and certain facts were incorrectly interpreted while allowing the convicts' appeals.
The three men – Ravi Kumar, Vinod and Rahul -- were accused of abducting, gang raping and brutally killing the woman in February 2012. Her mutilated body was found three days after her abduction. In 2014, a Delhi trial court awarded the death penalty to the three accused in the case, terming it “rarest-of-rare”. Later, the Delhi High Court upheld the death penalty.
According to the prosecution, the woman – who worked in Gurugram’s Cyber City area -- was returning from her workplace and was near her home when the three men abducted her in a car. When she didn’t return home, her parents lodged a missing person report. Later, her mutilated and decomposed body was found at a village in Rewari, Haryana.
Autopsy revealed she was raped and attacked with car tools, glass bottles, metal objects and other weapons. One of the accused allegedly took revenge after she turned down his proposal, the police had alleged.
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