Two convicts in Delhi gang rape case file curative pleas
Placing reliance on collective conscience of society to send a person to gallows is erroneous and has not found favour with the top court in earlier instances, one of the convicts in the 2012 Delhi gang rape case, Vinay Sharma stated in his curative petition before the Supreme Court, challenging the May 2017 judgment of the court which had upheld his conviction and death sentence.
“Judgment places erroneous reliance on the collective conscience of the society…However, clear case of law before and after the impugned judgment exists which finds such reliance erroneous,” the petition said.
Later on Thursday, Mukesh Singh, a co-convict, also moved a curative petition through his lawyer.
A Delhi court had on January 7 issued a death warrant against four convicts in the 2012 case — Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Singh. They are scheduled to be executed on January 22 at 7am in the Tihar jail premises.
The convicts have two weeks’ time to file both the curative and mercy petitions.
A curative petition is the last judicial resort available for redressal of grievances. It is a remedy established by the Supreme Court through its judgment in Rupa Asok Hurra v Ashok Hurra and is decided by the judges in-chamber. The mercy petition, on the other hand, is filed before the President who has the power to commute it to life imprisonment.
Sharma in his petition argued that the court overlooked mitigating factors while sentencing a person to death. He submitted that he was only around 19 years at the time of commission of offence and his young age was an important mitigating factor which was brushed aside by the court while handing him death sentence.
The petitioner also adverted to the impact his death could have on his family. “The petitioner’s parents are old and extremely poor. If the petitioner is executed, his entire family will be destroyed,” the petition, filed through lawyer AP?Singh, stated.
Besides, lack of criminal antecedents and probability of reformation were also cited by Sharma as factors which were overlooked while imposing death penalty.
Sharma also referred to various studies across the world and data by National Crime Records Bureau to argue that death penalty will not have any deterrent effect on the society, one of the grounds on which he was sentenced to death.
Interestingly the petition, placing reliance on a 2016 study by National Law University, Delhi, which said that death penalty as a punishment has been disproportionately imposed upon convicts from poor and marginalised sections of the society which points to a systemic bias in our criminal justice system against poor and marginalised.
In December 2012, five men and one juvenile had raped and brutalised a young para-medic student in a moving bus in Delhi, leading to nationwide outrage. The victim later died from the injuries suffered during the assault. The main accused, Ram Singh committed suicide in Tihar jail during the trial while the juvenile accused was sent to a reform house and released three years later.
The four remaining accused were convicted and sentenced to death by the trial court in 2013. The conviction and sentence were confirmed by the Delhi high court in 2014 and the Supreme Court in May 2017.
Subsequently, the review petitions filed by three convicts, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma against the Supreme Court judgment were dismissed in 2018 and the review petition by Akshay Thakur was dismissed in December 2019.