Nirbhaya case: SC to hear curative plea on Jan. 14

Nirbhaya case convicts Mukesh Singh (left) and Vinay Sharma. File

Nirbhaya case convicts Mukesh Singh (left) and Vinay Sharma. File   | Photo Credit: PTI


A bench of Justices NV Ramana, Arun Mishra, RF Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan will hear the curative petitions filed by Vinay Sharma and Mukesh at 1.45 p.m.

A five-judge Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana will examine the curative petitions filed by two Nirbhaya gang-rape case convicts, Vinay Sharma and Mukesh, on January 14.

The other judges on the Bench are Justices Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman, R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan. The judges would examine the petitions in their chambers at 1.45 p.m. and decide to either accept or reject them.

The curative petitions were filed by both convicts on January 9. The petitions came just days after a Delhi sessions court scheduled the execution of all the four convicts for January 22, at Tihar Jail.

Sharma and Mukesh, in separate curative petitions, said there had been a sea change in the death penalty jurisprudence since their convictions. They argued that ignoring the subsequent changes in the law against death penalty would be a “gross miscarriage of justice”.

Curative is a rare remedy devised by a Constitution Bench in its judgment in the Rupa Ashok Hurra case in 2002.

A party can take only two limited grounds in a curative petition — one, that he was not heard by the court before the adverse judgment was passed, and two, that the judge was biased.

A curative petition, which follows the dismissal of a review petition, is the last legal avenue open for convicts in the Supreme Court. Sharma was the first among the four convicts to file a curative plea.

In his plea, Sharma said the Supreme Court had commuted the death penalty in several rape and murder cases since 2017, when the apex court first confirmed the death penalty for the Nirbhaya convicts.

“After the pronouncement of judgment in 2017, there have been as many as 17 cases involving rape and murder in which various three-judge Benches of the Supreme Court have commuted the sentence of death,” the petitioner contended.

The Supreme Court had recently dismissed a review petition filed by another one of the four condemned men, Akshay Singh, to review its May 5, 2017, judgment confirming the death penalty in the Nirbhaya case.

The court had also refused Singh’s plea to grant him three weeks’ time to file a mercy petition before the President of India.

A Bench led by Justice R. Banumathi had said it was open for the Nirbhaya convicts to avail whatever time the law prescribes for the purpose of filing mercy plea.

Singh (33), Mukesh (30), Pawan Gupta (23) and Sharma (24) had brutally gang-raped a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012. She died of her injuries a few days later.

The case shocked the nation and led to the tightening of anti-rape laws. Rape, especially gang-rape, is now a capital crime.

One of the accused in the case, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail. A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board. He was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 10:13:04 PM |

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