By- Zeta Teresa Pereira
On 16th December 2012, Nirbhaya was gang-raped and murdered while she and her friend boarded a bus to Dwarka in the evening. The six-men convinced them that the bus was going in their direction. Once they got into the bus, the men started passing lewd comments on them. They hit her male friend and dragged her to the rear of the bus and raped her and even pulled out her intestines. This heinous crime led to nationwide protests.
Within 24 hours of the crime, police had found some suspects. The six Nirbhaya convicts were- Ram Singh and his brother Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Takur and a juvenile. The juvenile defendant was tried separately in a juvenile court because he was only 17 years and six months old at the time of committing the offence. On 31st August, he was convicted of rape and murder under the Juvenile Justice Act and given the maximum sentence of three years and was released on 20 December 2015.
The five adult men were charged for rape, murder, kidnapping, destruction of evidence and attempted murder of the women’s male companion. One of the convicts- Ram Singh hanged himself in Tihar jail. They were found guilty on 10 September 2013. The High Court confirmed the death sentence given by the lower court by stating that the incident fell into the category of “rarest of rare” crimes.
The Supreme Court stayed the execution of the convicts to allow them to make an appeal against their conviction. On 5 May 2017, the Supreme Court rejected the convicts’ appeal and upheld the death sentence.
A Delhi court on 7th January 2020 issued death warrant for the hanging of four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape-murder case on January 22 at 7 A.M.
The four convicts were informed of the order via video conferencing. Advocate Vrinda Grover, who is appointed as the Amicus Curie in this case, informed the court that she has interviewed the convicts and perused their documents and the process of filing a curative petition is underway. She further mentioned that the jail authorities had informed the convicts that the only remedy available to them is a mercy plea, she stated that the notices failed to mention curative petition as another remedy available to the convicts.
The Prosecutors Irfan Ahmad and Rajiv Mohan sought for immediate issuance of death warrants by stating that no petitions of the convicts were pending in any courts and that issuance of death warrant is a natural consequence of confirmation of death penalty under Section 413 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
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QUESTION OF LAW
Since the review petitions were not rejected in circulation, convicts have no rights to file a curative petition, argued the prosecutors. One of the convicts- Vinay had earlier tried to file a curative petition but was recommended by senior advocate that there are no grounds for the same. The execution petition has been pending since December 2018 and the convicts are trying to delay the matter, stated the prosecutors.
The Supreme Court had sent a categorical message that no further delay should be caused in this matter while dismissing the review plea of Akshay. Justice delayed is justice denied. It’s been 8 years since the grievous crime had taken place and it is high time the convicts are hanged.