New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed a plea seeking directions for immediate execution of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, saying, “you want us to go around Delhi and execute these people?”
“What kind of prayer you are making?” a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta told the petitioner. “You are making the court a joke,” it said.
The 23-year-old paramedic student was raped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a running bus in South Delhi by six persons and severely assaulted before being thrown out on the road. She died on 29 December 2012 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
One of the accused Ram Singh had hanged himself in the jail and another, a juvenile, was convicted of rape and murder. He was given the maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment in a reform facility.
On 9 July, the apex court dismissed the pleas of three convicts – Mukesh (31), Pawan Gupta (24) and Vinay Sharma (25) – seeking review of its 2017 judgement upholding the capital punishment awarded to them by the Delhi High Court and the trial court in the case.
The fourth death row convict, Akshay Kumar Singh (33), has not filed a review plea in the apex court. During the hearing on Thursday, advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava, the petitioner in the case, told the bench that though provision of death penalty was there in cases of rape-cum-murder, it was not acting as a deterrent due to delays in execution of such convicts. “Is death penalty acting as a deterrent?
Please do not file cases like this otherwise we will ask the registry not to accept it,” the bench said. “You want us to go around Delhi and execute these people? Dismissed,” the bench said while rejecting the plea. The public interest litigation (PIL) had said that despite a lapse of more than four and a half months from the date of dismissal of the review petitions of three convicts in Nirbhaya case, the death penalty has not yet been executed.
The plea had said that in rape-cum-murder cases, the fate of the accused must be decided in a period of eight months from the lower court to the apex court. Such delay in execution of death penalty was acting as a bad precedent and had resulted in increasing incidents of rapes being reported on daily basis, it had said.
The fact that death row convicts in Nirbhaya case have not yet been hanged despite over five years of their initial conviction “apparently gives an impression in the minds of the rapists that they would also be harmless if they commit such heinous crimes,” the plea had said.
The plea had also sought guidelines to prescribe strict timeline for speedy execution of death row convicts in rape-cum-murder cases, so that remedies of appeal in high court, appeal, review, curative petition in the apex court and mercy petition before the President are exhausted by convicts within a maximum period of eight months.