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BREAKING: SC Upholds Death Penalty For Nirbhaya Convicts [Read Judgment]

Supreme Court of India on Friday has upheld the Death penalty of convicts in Nirbhaya Rape and Death Case. The Judgment was passed unanimously by Justices Dipak Misra, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan. Justice Banumati wrote a separate but concurring Judgment.

The Three Judge Bench dismissed their appeal against the Delhi High Court, which has confirmed the capital punishment awarded to them by the trial court in September 2013.

Justice Dipak Misra termed  the incident as “Tsunami of shock” while describing the nature and gravity of offence committed by the convicts.

In a voluminous judgement (430 pages), the bench held the attitude of offenders as “beastial proclivity” and said “It sounds like a  story from a different world where humanity is treated with irreverence.”

Justice Bhanumathi said the “incident shocks collective conscience of society”

Referring to National Crime Records Bureau, she said respect for women has declined and crime has increased.

Gender Justice should not be only in paper but effective steps should be take for awareness in the civilised society.

“Children should be taught to respect women. “

She also proposed slew of suggestions saying “Gender equality should be part of school curriculum. Awareness should be created….”

Soon after the verdict, the people in packed court room had clapped.

The convict’s lawyer Advocate AP Singh cited a Hindi couplet to court for not granting relief to the convicts.

Parents of Nirbhaya who were present in the court room said “judiciary has not only strengthened our faith but the faith of women folk.”

Justice Dipak Misra

“The casual manner with which she was treated and the devilish manner in which they played with her identity and dignity is humanly inconceivable. It sounds like a story from a different world where humanity has been treated with irreverence. The appetite for sex, the hunger for violence, the position of the empowered and the attitude of perversity, to say the least, are bound to shock the collective conscience which knows not what to do. It is manifest that the wanton lust, the servility to absolutely unchained carnal desire and slavery to the loathsome beastility of passion ruled the mindset of the appellants to commit a crime which can summon with immediacy “tsunami” of shock in the mind of the collective and destroy the civilised marrows of the milieu in entirety”, said Justice Dipak Misra in his Judgment.

When we cautiously, consciously and anxiously weigh the aggravating circumstances and the mitigating factors, we are compelled to arrive at the singular conclusion that the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstances now brought on record. Therefore, we conclude and hold that the High Court has correctly confirmed the death penalty and we see no reason to differ with the same”.

Justice Banumati

“In the present case, there is not even a hint of hesitation in my mind with respect to the aggravating circumstances outweighing the mitigating circumstances and I do not find any justification to convert the death sentence imposed by the courts below to ‘life imprisonment for the rest of the life’. The gruesome offences were committed with highest viciousness. Human lust was allowed to take such a demonic form. The accused may not be hardened criminals; but the cruel manner in which the gang-rape was committed in the moving bus; iron rods were inserted in the private parts of the victim; and the coldness with which both the victims were thrown naked in cold wintery night of December, shocks the collective conscience of the society. The present case clearly comes within the category of ‘rarest of rare case’ where the question of any other punishment is ‘unquestionably foreclosed’. If at all there is a case warranting award of death sentence, it is the present case. If the dreadfulness displayed by the accused in committing the gang-rape, 427 unnatural sex, insertion of iron rod in the private parts of the victim does not fall in the ‘rarest of rare category’, then one may wonder what else would fall in that category. On these reasoning recorded by me, I concur with the majority in affirming the death sentence awarded to the accused persons”.

The Bench was delivering its verdict on appeals filed by Mukesh (24), Pawan (20), Vinay (22) and Akshay (29) against the death sentence awarded to them by the trial court on September 13, 2013 which was upheld by the Delhi High Court on March 12, 2014. The prosecution Delhi Police had also moved the apex court seeking to get the death penalty confirmed by the apex court, as was mandatory under the rules

The prosecution had submitted before the bench that the four death row convicts do not deserve any leniency and only confirmation of capital punishment would meet the ends of justice given the “diabolical nature, brazenness and brutality” of the crime

On a cold winter night of December 16, 2012, five adult men and a juvenile lured the 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist and her male friend onto a bus in Delhi, where they repeatedly raped the woman and beat both with a metal bar before dumping them on a road. The woman, later dubbed Nirbhaya (meaning fearless), died two weeks later of her injuries. Four of the adults were sentenced to death while the fifth hanged himself in prison.

On August 31, 2013, the juvenile was convicted and sentenced to three years in a reformation home. He was released in December 2015.

Considering the “gravity of the case and questions of law involved”, the SC bench had appointed two senior Supreme Court lawyers- Raju Ramachandran and Sanjay Hegde  to argue the appeals filed by the four convicts.

“MITIGATING FACTORS”

They had pointed out that the apex court had held in the famous 1980 Bachan Singh case that a balance sheet of “mitigating and aggravating circumstances” have to be drawn before sentencing a person to death but the trial court and the High Court had failed to so while sentencing them to death.

Pleading for leniency, they urged the court to consider the young age of the convicts, current family situation including age of parents and ill health of family members and responsibilities towards other family members, likelihood of reformation etc..

They had also argued that the trial court and high court did not separately consider mitigating circumstances of each convict while sending them to gallows and had painted all of them with the same brush

They had submitted before the Court that the order on sentence passed by the Trial Court on 11.9.2013 and confirmed by the High Court, ought to be set aside for violating the fundamental norms of sentencing, constitutionally ingrained, statutorily reflected and judicially interpreted by the Apex Court. He submitted that firstly, the statutory procedure prescribed under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 was not strictly adhered to. Secondly, the tests prescribed by the Supreme Court to be followed while awarding death sentence have been overlooked and/or misapplied both by the Trial Court and the High Court.

Read the Judgment Here.

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