The Supreme Court will on Friday resume final hearing on appeals filed by four convicts awarded death for raping a 23-year-old paramedic in Delhi on December 16, 2012, leading to her death few days later.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra – which had decided to sit beyond its working hours -- will take up the appeals at 2 pm and go on to hear arguments till 6 pm, though the court’s working hours end at 4 pm.
The SC had on April 4 began final hearing the convicts’ appeal almost two years after staying their execution.
The decision to devote extra hours on each Monday and Friday was taken on July 11 after senior advocate Sanjay Hedge, who was asked by the court to defend two accused, had requested the bench for having non-stop day-long hearings so that verdict was delivered in time. Hegde had said it was not prudent to have piecemeal hearing.
Justice Misra had in an unprecedented move held an overnight hearing of Mumbai blasts case death convict Yakub Memon in July last year.
Earlier, Justice Misra’s bench had told Hedge and senior advocate Raju Ramachandran to assist the court because the lawyer the accused hired were unable to argue well.
Ramachandran will argue for Mukesh (29) and Pawan Gupta (22) while Hegde will represent Vinay Sharma (23) and Akshay Thakur (31).
Ramachandran had defended Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab for his role in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. The top court had held Kasab guilty and sentenced him to death. It had appreciated Ramachandran’s assistance in the case for which the senior counsel did not charge money. Even in the gang rape case the two lawyers will not be paid by their clients. The SC’s legal aid will remunerate them, if they accept it.
But two of the four death-row convicts had written to Chief Justice of India TS Thakur and Justice Misra, stating that they do not approve of the defence counsel appointed by the court to argue their case in the top court as they had given statements against them to the media in the past.
The trial court had in September 2013 awarded death sentence to the convicts. Six months later, the Delhi high court upheld their conviction and sentence. All the convicts moved the SC in 2014, which stayed their execution.
Six people, including a juvenile, had assaulted the woman in a moving bus in South Delhi. Later, the accused threw out the victim and her male friend at an isolated spot. She died in a Singapore hospital on December 29, 2012, triggering nationwide protests.