Chhawla gangrape-murder case: SC to decide pleas seeking review of verdict acquitting 3 death row convicts

The apex court set aside the high court order and acquitted them of the offences in November last year, sparking a debate on the verdict.

March 01, 2023 06:05 pm | Updated 06:05 pm IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court is likely to consider on Thursday as many as five petitions seeking review of its verdict acquitting three death row convicts in the gangrape and murder case of a 19-year-old girl in Chhawla area here in 2012.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and justices S. Ravindra Bhat and Bela M. Trivedi will decide by circulation in chambers the fate of the five review petitions at 1.50 p.m. on March 2.

According to the list of business uploaded on the apex court website, the review pleas are listed for consideration on Thursday.

The top court, on February 8, had agreed to constitute a three-judge bench to consider pleas for a review of its verdict acquitting the three death row convicts in the sensational case.

Besides the Delhi government, the father of the victim, Uttarakhand Bachao Movement and Uttarakhand Lok Manch have sought the review of the judgement.

In 2012, the three accused had allegedly gangraped the girl, murdered her and mutilated her body with a screwdriver and other weapons. The trial court had awarded them death sentence and the high court upheld it in August 2014.

The apex court set aside the high court order and acquitted them of the offences in November last year, sparking a debate on the verdict.

Except the plea seeking review of a judgement awarding death penalty to a convict, such petitions are considered and decided in chambers.

The victim's father, in his review petition filed through lawyer Rohit Dandriyal, sought reversal of the acquittal verdict saying, "this court has erred in observing that the case being purely dependent upon the circumstantial evidences, the prosecution failed to prove the circumstances beyond reasonable doubt and failed to prove the identity of the accused persons..." On December 8 last year, Delhi Police had moved the top court seeking a review of its acquittal verdict, saying the offence was "diabolic in nature exhibiting grave depravity and bestiality" and fell under the "rarest of rare" category.

An FIR was registered on January 26, 2023 with the Dwarka (North) police station and Vinod arrested following the investigation.

While acquitting the three convicts, the Supreme Court, on November 7 last year, had said the law does not permit courts to punish an accused on the basis of moral conviction or on suspicion alone.

It had said the prosecution failed to provide leading, cogent, clinching and clear evidence, including those related to DNA profiling and call detail records (CDRs), against the accused, and said the trial court also acted as a "passive umpire".

The body of the 19-year-old, who worked in Cyber Hub, Gurgaon, was found three days after she was abducted. According to the prosecution, she belonged to Uttarakhand and was returning from her workplace.

When she did not return home, her parents lodged a missing person report, the prosecution said, adding that the woman's mutilated and decomposing body was found in a village in Rewari, Haryana.

The police found multiple injuries on the body. Further investigation and autopsy revealed she was attacked with car tools, glass bottles, metal objects, and other weapons. She was also raped, police said.

Police arrested the three men allegedly involved in the crime and claimed one of them took revenge after the woman spurned his advances.

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