‘Was sentenced to death, but sexually abused in jail’: Delhi rape convict to SC
Mukesh Singh, one of the four men convicted for the 2012 Delhi gang rape, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the rejection of his mercy petition by the President was arbitrary and the decision taken without giving Rashtrapati Bhavan an opportunity to go through the records, including the trial case verdict.
Senior lawyer Anjana Prakash, who represented Mukesh Singh before a three-judge bench led by Justice R Banumathi, has challenged the rejection of his request for a presidential pardon earlier this month.
The bench later reserved its verdict to be pronounced on Wednesday.
Mukesh Singh and his three other accomplices, who were convicted for the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old in 2012, were sentenced to death. Earlier this month, a Delhi court ordered the four of them to be executed on February 1.
Anjana Prakash told the bench, which also comprises justices Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, that the government should have placed all the records before the President but slipped up on this account.
For instance, she said, the records that would indicate a delay in extending legal aid to the convict. Or the records that would indicate that only the DNA of two convicts, Ram Singh and Akshay Thakur, was on the rape victim.
Mukesh Singh’s lawyers also complained that he had been sent to solitary confinement even before his mercy plea was rejected, which was a violation of norms and the humiliation that he was subjected to.
“Courts only sentenced me to death..was I sentenced to be sexually abused?”, said the lawyer representing Mukesh Singh. Rebecca John, who also represented Mukesh Singh, pointed to the pace at which the President rejected his mercy plea.
Tushar Mehta, the Centre’s second most-senior law officer, countered Mukesh Singh’s submissions, arguing that it was strange that questions about sanctity of life are being raised by the convict.
The mercy plea was, once filed by Mukesh Singh, processed quickly and sent with the recommendations in line with the rules. The President was not sitting in appeal over the judicial decision of courts, Mehta said.
On Mukesh Singh’s complaint of abuse in Tihar, Tushar Mehta stressed that if there was ill-treatment in jail, the convict could raise it at an appropriate forum but it could not be a ground for mercy. “This is not a luxury jurisdiction that though I’m guilty of this heinous crime, since I was ill treated, I should be given mercy”, the Solicitor General emphasised.
Tushar Mehta also countered the complaint that the President didn’t take much time to decide on his mercy plea. “The quick decision taken by President is because delay in deciding mercy plea has a dehumanising effect on convict as held by Supreme Court,” Mehta said.