Nirbhaya case: SC dismisses review pleas. Reaffirms gallows
The Supreme Court Monday dismissed review petitions filed by death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case and reaffirmed its verdict upholding the death sentence to four convicts who brutalised and murdered the victim in the national capital in December 2012.
The 23-year-old physiotherapist was raped by six persons, including a juvenile, in a moving bus on 16 December, 2012. The rapists had inserted an iron rod inside her private parts and threw her out naked in a wintery night. She later succumbed to her injuries at a Singapore hospital. The barbaric incident attracted outrage from inside and outside the country.
While one of the accused committed suicide in Tihar jail during trial, the juvenile is now out after serving his time at a remand home.
The review petitions filed by the convicts called for a recall and review of the 5 May, 2017 apex court verdict confirming death penalty for the remaining four.
Dismissing the review petitions, a SC Bof Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumati and Ashok Bhushan said “they lacked grounds for a review”.
The trial court in September 2013 granted the convicts death penalty, upheld by the Delhi High Court in March 2014.
One of the death row convicts, Mukesh Kumar filed a review petition challenging the judgment after the SC upheld it, contending he was falsely implicated in the case and was not present at the crime scene.
The rest of the convicts too sought review and recall of the verdict upholding death penalty. They had contended that their disclosure statements were “tainted with custodial torture”. But the CJI-led Bench refused to exercise its review jurisdiction, observing there was no apparent errors resulting in miscarriage of justice.
The Bench said the convicts could not be allowed to reargue their case “under the garb of a review petition”.
The four death row convicts are now left with the option of approaching the President of India with mercy petitions.
Nirbhaya’s parents welcomed the dismissal of the review petitions and urged for expediting the hanging of the convicts. “We have got justice once again. We hope the legal formalities are completed,” her mother Asha Devi said.
“I request the judiciary to tighten the system and serve justice by hanging them as soon as possible,” she added.
Delhi Commission for Women, Chairperson, Swati Maliwal too welcomed the SC decision.
Welcome SC decision on Nirbhaya matter of upholding the death penalty to rapists. Wish the decision could have come earlier. Urge authorities to urgently execute the death penalty and give justice to Nirbhaya.— Swati Maliwal (@SwatiJaiHind) July 9, 2018
Responding to the dismissal of the review petitions, Amnesty International India advocated against capital punishment.
“Unfortunately, executions do not eradicate violence against women. There is no evidence to show that the death penalty acts as a deterrent for sexual violence or any other crime. Even the Justice Verma Committee, whose recommendations were relied upon to reform laws on sexual assault and rape, had opposed imposing the death penalty in cases of rape,” said Programmes Director Asmita Basu.
“All too often lawmakers in India hold up capital punishment as a symbol of their resolve to tackle crime, and choose to ignore more difficult and effective solutions like improving investigations, prosecutions and support for victims’ families. Far-reaching procedural and institutional reforms are the need of the hour,” she added.