The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by one of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case to review its May 5, 2017 judgment confirming his death penalty.
The court refused Akshay Singh's plea to grant him three weeks' time to file a mercy petition before the President of India.
The Delhi Police said the law allowed a death row convict only a week's time. The court said it would not express anything in this regard and it was open for the convict to avail whatever time the law prescribes for the purpose of filing mercy plea.
A three-judge Review Bench led by Justice R. Banumathi said a review petition did not mean hearing “over and over again” the same arguments made in the appeals.
At 1 p.m., Justice Banumathi, flanked by Justices Ashok Bhushan and A.S. Bopanna on the Bench, read out excerpts from the judgment pronounced merely a couple of hours after they finished hearing the oral arguments made in the review petition earlier in the morning.
During the review hearing, advocate A.P. Singh, counsel for Akshay, submitted that “executions only kill criminals, not the crime.” He referred to convicts Nalini and others in the former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi assassination case , saying they have not been executed.
“The State must not simply execute people to prove that it is attacking terror or violence against women. It must persistently work towards systematic reforms to being about change,” Mr. Singh argued in te court for about half an hour.
Death penalty is the law: SG
Countering the review for the Delhi Police, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the death penalty was the law and as long as it remained in the statute book, the punishment had to be followed.
"There are crimes when humanity is put to shame. There are crimes when God cries that this girl could not be saved. Crimes which create monsters were born. This is such a case. There can be no mercy in such a case,” Mr. Mehta capped his submissions.
Akshay, who is 33, along Mukesh (30), Pawan Gupta (23) and Vinay Sharma (24) 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.
In July last year, the apex court dismissed the review petitions of Mukesh, Gupta and Sharma. They are left with the extremely rare remedy of filing curative petitions in the court.
Akshay, however, did not join them. He opted to file his review petition now when the authorities were reportedly making preparations in Tihar Jail for their execution.
One of the accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the 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.