Nirbhaya Case: Death Row Convict Files Mercy Plea After Supreme Court Refuses To Stay Execution
One of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape-murder case who are to be hanged on Jan. 22 filed a mercy plea before the President on Tuesday shortly after the Supreme Court refused to stay the execution of two of them including him.
The mercy plea was filed by 32-year-old Mukesh Kumar, who along with Vinay Sharma (26), Akshay Kumar Singh (31) and Pawan Gupta (25), are scheduled to be hanged at 7 a.m. on Jan. 22 in Tihar jail following an order by a Delhi court which issued their death warrants on Jan. 7.
Mukesh and Vinay, who sought yet another legal remedy to escape the gallows, failed to get any relief when the Supreme Court dismissed their curative petitions against their conviction and capital punishment. A curative petition is the last and final judicial remedy available to a person convicted by courts of law.
Akshay and Pawan have not filed any curative petitions yet but their lawyer said this will be done soon.
Moving the mercy petition before President Ram Nath Kovind, Mukesh also approached the Delhi High Court for quashing the death warrant. The high court is expected to take up Mukesh's petition on Wednesday.
Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel said Mukesh moved the mercy plea in the evening after his curative petition was dismissed by the apex court.
"Today is a big day for me because I have been struggling for seven years, till date. Today is a big day for me but the biggest day would be Jan. 22 when the four would be hanged," said Nirbhaya's mother Asha Devi.
"I hope that the other remedies available to them would be similarly rejected in future and they will be hanged on Jan. 22. I have fought according to law for seven years and we will get justice legally."
In the apex court, a five-judge bench rejected the curative petitions of Mukesh and Vinay during in-chamber proceedings.
"The applications for oral hearing are rejected. The applications for stay of execution of death sentence are also rejected," a bench, headed by Justice NV Ramana, said in its order.
"We have gone through the curative petitions and the relevant documents. In our opinion, no case is made out within the parameters indicated in the decision of this court in Rupa Ashok Hurra vs Ashok Hurra & another, reported in 2002 (4) SCC 388,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Arun Mishra, R F Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan.
"Hence, the curative petitions are dismissed," the bench added.
The five judges were unanimous that there was no merit in the curative petitions filed by Mukesh and Vinay on Jan. 9.
Advocate AP Singh, who is representing the convicts in the case, said he would file mercy petition before the President on behalf of Mukesh and Vinay.
He said he would also file curative petitions on behalf of the other two convicts--Akshay and Pawan-- in the apex court.
"I have sought details from Tihar Jail about the conduct of these convicts during their stay on the prison from 2012 till 2019. Once I will receive those details, I will file curative petitions for Akshay and Pawan," Singh told PTI.
Singh said that last week he had approached the jail authorities seeking details about conduct of these convicts in the prison but he has not been provided with it yet.
Singh said once he files all mercy petitions, he would bring it to the notice of the court so that the scheduled execution could be suspended.
The petition filed by Mukesh in the high court through advocate Vrinda Grover sought quashing of the death warrant on the grounds he has moved mercy petitions before the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and the President of India.
Mukesh also sought stay of the execution warrant, saying otherwise his constitutional right to seek mercy would be rendered infructuous.
A 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya or fearless, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of Dec. 16-17, 2012, in a moving bus in south Delhi by six people before being thrown out on the road. She died on Dec. 29 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
The Supreme Court had in 2017 upheld the capital punishment awarded to the four convicts by the Delhi High Court and a trial court.
One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail.
A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.
On July 9, 2018, the apex court dismissed the review pleas filed by three of the convicts in the case, saying no grounds had been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.
On Dec. 18 last, the top court also dismissed the plea filed by Akshay seeking review of its 2017 judgement upholding his death penalty.