‘Legal aid can’t be illusionary’: Judge defers death warrant for 4 rape convicts
He also said that deciding this application would lead to further legal complications.Updated: Feb 13, 2020 23:07 IST
A Delhi court on Thursday adjourned hearing on a petition filed by the parents of the 2012 gangrape case for fresh death warrants for the four convicts till 2 pm on Monday. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana pointed to the rights of the convicts under Article 21 of the Constitution for his decision.
“In my considered opinion, Article 21 of the Constitution protects the life and liberty of a condemned prisoner till his last breath. It is a matter of right to exhaust his legal remedies and the court cannot afford to ignore the fundamental rights of the convict,” said the judge.
The judge also appointed an advocate to represent Pawan Gupta, one of the four death row convicts in the case, after he refused to take a lawyer offered by the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DLSA) as legal aid.
“I deem it appropriate that even the legal aid counsel for Pawan is entitled for some time of effective representation. So that the legal aid providers to the convict is not illusionary or superficiary exercise,” said the judge.
He also said that deciding this application would lead to further legal complications. A dejected mother of the gangrape victim, Asha Devi, said, “I am keeping faith in you (the judge), but when the death warrant is not passed, I will again come on the next date with the same hope and faith.”
ALSO WATCH | SC reserves order on Delhi gangrape convict’s mercy plea rejection
The parents of the 2012 Delhi gangrape case victim, through their lawyer, had told the court during the hearing today that patience of the society is being tested by this case.
Jitendra Kumar Jha, the lawyer of the parents said that judiciary is being taken for granted as the death warrant has been postponed thrice in the case. “It was a heinous crime which shook the conscience of the society. But now, it is the people’s will which is being bulldozed,” said the lawyer.
Public prosecutor Irfan Ahmed too demanded that the death warrant be issued.
The parents of the victim moved the Delhi court earlier this week for issuance of fresh death warrant after the seven-day period given by the Delhi high court expired.
On the first day of hearing on Wednesday, the mother of the victim broke down after the judge offered legal aid to one of the convicts Pawan Gupta. “This court is of the opinion that any of the condemned convict is entitled for legal aid till his last breath,” said the judge.
“I am here from one and a half years, I am here and waiting for them to avail their legal remedies. However, even I am victim’s mother, and even I have some rights. I would request you to please issue the death warrant,” said Asha Devi.
The application was moved after the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted liberty to the authorities to approach the trial court for issuance of fresh date for the execution of these convicts.
The date of execution for the four convicts - Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) - was first fixed for January 22 in Tihar jail, was later postponed for 6 am on February 1 by a January 17 court order.
The physiotherapy intern was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.
Six people - the four convicts, Ram Singh and a juvenile - were named as accused.
The trial of the five adult men began in a special fast-track court in March 2013.
Ram Singh, the prime accused, committed suicide by hanging himself in Tihar jail days after the trial began. The juvenile, who was said to be the most brutal of the attackers, was put in a correctional home for three years.
He was released in 2015 and sent to an undisclosed location amid concerns over a threat to his life. He, when released, was 20 years old.
Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay and Pawan were sentenced to death in September 2013 by the trial court.