Nirbhaya Case: Top Court Dismisses 2 Convicts' Plea Against Death Penalty
New Delhi: Two of the rapists in the Nirbhaya case, who filed a plea against their death sentence, drew a blank at the Supreme Court today. A five judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana, which heard the petition in-chamber, of Vinay Sharma and Mukesh, dismissed it.
The curative petition -- the last resort to get redressal from courts -- was filed after a Delhi court issued a death warrant in the name of the convicts.
January 22 was named as the date of the execution of the four men who had raped and tortured a 23-year-old medical student in Delhi seven years ago.
The woman and her friend were attacked on the evening of December 16, 2012. On their way home after watching a movie, they were lured into an empty private bus. Only six men were present -- two of them were the driver and the conductor.
The woman was gangraped for hours and tortured with an iron rod, her friend was beaten up and dumped on the road. After fighting for her life for days, she died on December 29.
Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh will hang at 7 am on January 22.
Another accused, Ram Singh, was found hanging in his cell. The sixth, who was just short of 18 when the crime was committed, was released after three years at a reform home.
If it is rejected, they are legally bound to move a mercy petition. It is filed before the President who has the power to commute it to life imprisonment.
A Delhi Court which was hearing the bail request of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, questioning Delhi Police's charges against him. The court said: "You are behaving as if Jama Masjid is Pakistan. Even if it was Pakistan, you can go there and protest. Pakistan was a part of undivided India." Chandrashekhar Azad aka "Raavan" was arrested for his protest last month against the citizenship law at Jama Masjid, today asserted "it is one's constitutional right to protest".
On December 21, the Bhim Army chief was arrested over a dramatic protest a day before at the iconic Jama Masjid in the old quarters of Delhi, where he surfaced suddenly despite heavy police presence and slipped away after being taken into custody. He was arrested a day later and charged with arson and rioting.
The public prosecutor, representing the police, got off to a rough start when he pleaded ignorance about the First Information Report listing charges that Azad faces in Uttar Pradesh. Judge Kamini Lau, who had asked for details of these charges, expressed surprise when the prosecutor said he would "find out".
The prosecutor also referred to Azad's social media posts to argue that he had incited violence. When the prosecutor read out a post by the Bhim Army chief about going to a dharna in Jama Masjid, Judge Lau said: "What is wrong with a dharna? What is wrong with protesting? It is one's constitutional right to protest."
The judge continued: "Where is the violence? What is wrong with any of these posts? Who says you cannot protest...have you read the constitution?"
None of the posts were unconstitutional, said Judge Lau.
When the prosecutor argued that "permission needed to be taken" for such protests because Section 144 was in place, the court shot back: "What permission? Supreme Court has said repeated use of Section 144 is abuse". Last week, the Supreme Court said in a significant order on restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir that Section 144, a British-era law banning large gatherings, "can't be used as a tool to oppress difference of opinion".