In verdict on 4 Delhi rape convicts, high court’s biting criticism of govt
The four Delhi gang rape convicts sentenced to death have adopted delaying tactics to frustrate the black warrants issued against them, the Delhi High Court observed on Wednesday but made it clear that the “authorities concerned” did not take the necessary steps either.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait has rejected the Union Home Ministry petition challenging the 31 January decision of a Delhi judge to freeze the death warrants for now. The Home Ministry and Delhi Government lawyers rushed straight to the Supreme Court minutes later to appeal Justice Kait’s verdict.
The judge had packed in a stinging indictment of the authorities.
The four men had been convicted for the gang rape of the 23-year-old paramedic trainee on a cold December night in 2012 within just about a year of the horrific crime.
Their appeals against the verdict were decided by the Supreme Court on 5 May 2017.
But Justice Kait pointed out that the authorities did not bother to implement the verdict.
“I have no hesitation to say that after dismissal of criminal appeals on 5 May 2017 by the Supreme Court, nobody had bothered to execute the death warrants. They (authorities) waited for reasons best known to them till convict Mukesh filed a review petition before the Supreme Court on 6 November 2017 after 186 days,” Justice Kait observed.
The petitions - Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta had also filed their pleas in December 2017 - were dismissed on 9 July 2018.
“Even thereafter, all authorities concerned were sleeping and waited till Akshay Kumar Singh filed a petition with 950-day delay, on 10 December 2019 and the same was dismissed on 18 December 2019,” the verdict said.
The judge did not spell out who the authorities concerned were.
As for delaying tactics by death row convicts, the judge said it was “understandable” that the prisoner will seek to take recourse to every remedy available to him under the law to seek commutation of his sentence.
“It is not uncommon that a series of review petitions and writ petitions are filed in the court to challenge judgments and orders which have assumed finality without any seeming justification,” the judge noted.
The convicts, the judge said, were taking shelter of Article 21 of the Constitution which is available to them till their last breath. According to Article 21 of the Constitution, “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law”.
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