Dec 16 convict challenges rejection of mercy plea by President
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear a plea by the December 16 gang rape convict Mukesh Sharma challenging the rejection of his mercy plea by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The petition will be heard by a bench of justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna at 12.30pm.
The case was mentioned before Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde at 10.30am on Monday by Mukesh Singh’s counsel seeking urgent listing since the execution of the convicts is scheduled for February 1.
The CJI agreed, remarking that the case of a man who is scheduled to be executed will be given top priority. He then asked the lawyer to mention the matter before the registrar for urgent listing.
President Kovind had rejected 32-year-old Mukesh Singh’s mercy petition on January 17 within a span of just four days of filing the plea.
Singh, in his plea before the Supreme Court, relied on the guidelines laid down by the top court in its 2014 judgment in Shatrughan Chauhan vs Union of India case and assailed the manner in which the mercy plea was rejected by the President.
In December 2012, five men and a 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 her injuries. One of the men committed suicide in Tihar jail during the trial, while the juvenile was sent to a reform house and released three years later.
The four remaining men — Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Thakur (31) — 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, Pawan and Vinay against the Supreme Court judgment were dismissed in 2018 and the review petition by Akshay Thakur was dismissed in December 2019.
Additional Sessions Judge, Patiala House had on January 7, 2020 issued a death warrant against four convicts and scheduled their execution on January 22.
This left the convicts with two weeks’ time to file both the curative and mercy petition.
Two of the accused, Mukesh and Vinay Sharma then filed curative petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the May 2017 judgment of the top court which had upheld their conviction and death sentence. The Supreme Court dismissed the curative petitions on January 14.
Immediately after that, Mukesh had filed his mercy plea before the President and also moved the Delhi High Court challenging the decision of issuance of the death warrant by a trial court stating that his mercy petition is pending before the President.
The Delhi High Court refused to stay the death warrant and asked Mukesh to go to the trial court. Mukesh had then approached the Patiala House court seeking postponement of the hanging.
The Patiala House court on January 16 asked the jail authorities to submit a fresh status report on the scheduled execution. The very next day Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora issued fresh death warrant rescheduling the execution date to February 1.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on January 20 dismissed a petition filed by Pawan Gupta who had argued that he was a juvenile at the time of commission of offence in December 2012.