NEW DELHI: Six years after the gruesome rape of a 23-year-old para-medical student inside a moving bus in South Delhi, the Supreme Court on Monday uphold the death penalty of three gang rape-cum-murder convicts.
The court rejected the review petitions of three of the four condemned convicts seeking review of the apex court’s ruling of May 2017 decision to award death penalty to all four.
Authoring the judgement on behalf of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice R Bhanumathi, Justice Ashok Bhushan said, “All pleas of convicts were taken into account during hearing of appeals against High Court order and no new ground has been raised in review petitions to warrant reconsideration of death penalties awarded to them in May 2017.” The bench said, “If there is error apparent, miscarriage of justice then only review petitions can be allowed to re-argue the case.”
Now with today’s verdict, convicts have two legal options left to prevent death penalty – one is to file a curative petition and secondly to approach the President with the mercy petition.
Soon after the verdict, who attended each hearing spanning for 38 days in the supreme court said, “My fight will continue till these convicts gets hanged. I am thankful to the supreme court to keep our faith restored on judiciary.”
The three-judge special bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had reserved the verdict in May on the review petitions of Vinay and Pawan Kumar who pleaded that they were young men coming from poor families who should be given a chance to reform.
“They are not habitual offenders and have no past criminal records…The court must allow them to be reformed,” advocate A P Singh had told the Bench
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 apex court had on May 5, 2017, upheld a Delhi High Court verdict confirming the death penalty awarded by the trial court Mukesh Kumar, Pawan Kumar, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh for raping the para-medical student on December 16, 2012. Akshay hasn’t filed any review petition.
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.