3 Nirbhaya killers to hang as Supreme Court upholds death sentence

The Asian Age.  | J. Venkatesan

India, All India

Reacting to the apex court verdict, the parents of the victim said their faith in the judiciary has been reinstated.

Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi flashes a victory sign after the SC order. (Photo: Pritam Bandyopadhyay)

New Delhi: The convicts in the sensational Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case of December 2012 will hang, the Supreme Court said on Monday, reaffirming the death sentence of three of the four death row convicts and holding that “no grounds” have been made out to review the top court’s decision last year to give them capital punishment.

Mukesh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma, who were sent to the gallows for the chilling crime that sparked a national outrage and debate over women’s safety, had approached the apex court seeking mercy and with a request that their death sentence be reduced to life imprisonment. The fourth convict, Akshay, did not file any review of the May 5, 2017, judgment that had confirmed death sentence awarded to the accused by the Delhi high court. The apex court had earlier stayed their execution pending disposal of review petitions.

Dismissing the three convicts’ pleas, a bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said, “There is no new material to review our order. A mere repetition, through different counsel, of old and overruled arguments, a second trip over ineffectually covered ground or minor mistakes of inconsequential import are obviously insufficient.”

“A review of a judgment is a serious step and reluctant resort to… it is proper only where a glaring omission or patent mistake or like grave error has crept in earlier by judicial fallibility,” said the bench, including Justices R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan.

However, the death row convicts still have judicial redressal for a re-examination of the dismissal of their appeals and review pleas by way of a curative petition, which is the last legal remedy left for curing the defects, if any, in a judgment.  The curative petition, if filed, would come up before three senior most judges of the apex court and the three judges on the bench which dismissed the review petition on Monday. Before facing the gallows, the convicts can also seek mercy from the President.

Advocate for Sharma and Gupta had argued that death penalty for the convicts was like “cold-blooded killing” in the name of justice. It was argued that death penalty had been abolished in most of the countries.

Reacting to the apex court verdict, the parents of the victim said that their faith in the judiciary has been reinstated and they hoped to get justice.

“The Supreme Court upholding its verdict is a strong message to those who commit such heinous crimes. Our faith in the judiciary has been reinstated. I appeal to the Prime Minister to take concrete steps against atrocities towards young girls and women,” said Asha Devi, the victim’s mother.

Writing the judgment, Justice Bhushan pointed out that during a judgment’s review counsel cannot be permitted to re-argue the grounds taken earlier. “Even if the applicant succeeds in establishing that there may be another view possible on the conviction or sentence of the accused that is not a sufficient ground for review,” the court said.

“We may observe that submissions which have been raised by counsel before us in this review petition are more or less the submissions which were advanced at the time of hearing of the appeal and this court had already considered the relevant submissions and dealt them in its judgment dated May 5, 2017.This court had cautiously gone into and revisited the entire evidences on record and after being fully satisfied had dismissed the appeal,” the court said.

It said in a review petition the petitioner cannot be allowed to re-argue merits of the case by pointing out certain evidences and materials, which were on the record and were already looked into by the trial court, high court and this court as well.

The apex court in its May 2017 judgment had described the gang rape incident as a “tsunamic shock”.

It had said, “The brutal, barbaric and diabolic nature of the crime is evincible from the acts committed by the accused persons… the nature and manner of the crime devastated social trust.”

The 23-year-old paramedic student was gangraped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a running bus in South Delhi by six persons and severely assaulted before being thrown out on the road. She had succumbed to injuries on December 29, 2012 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board. He was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term. One accused died in jail.

Reacting to the apex court verdict, the parents of the victim said their faith in the judiciary has been reinstated.