The Supreme Court which is re-examining and re-assesing the capital punishment awarded by the trial court and upheld by the Delhi High Court to the four convicts in the sensational Nirbhaya case today sought a report from the Tihar jail superintendent on their conduct of -Mukesh (24), Pawan (20), Vinay (22) and Akshay (29.
As per the direction of the Supreme Court the lawyers for accused filed affidavits on their behalf listing the “mitigating circumstances which should go in their favour”. Lawyer A P Singh filed the affidavits on behalf of three accused Pawan Kumar Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh while M.L. Sharma filed the affidavit on behalf of Mukesh.
After going through the affidavits, Amicus Curiae Raju Ramachandran said the affidavit filed by Mukesh does not cover many aspects, namely, socio-economic background, criminal antecedents, family particulars, personal habits, education, vocational skills, physical health and his conduct in the prison. M L Sharma submitted that a report was asked for from the Superintendent of Jail with regard to the conduct of the accused persons while they are in custody, but the same has not directly been filed by the Superintendent of Jail.
On this the bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra observed: “In our considered opinion, the Superintendent of Jail should have filed the report with regard to the conduct of the accused persons since they are in custody for almost four years. That would have thrown light on their conduct. Let the report with regard to their conduct be filed by the Superintendent of Jail in a sealed cover in the Court on the next date of hearing. As far as the affidavit filed by Mukesh is concerned, Mr. Sharma, learned counsel stated that he will keep the aspects which are required to be highlighted in mind and file a further affidavit within a week hence. The direction issued on the earlier occasion with regard to the visit of jail by the learned counsel for the parties shall 4 remain in force till the next date of hearing. Let the matter be listed at 2.00 p.m. on 20.3.2017. The report of the Superintendent of Jail, as directed hereinabove, shall be filed in Court on that date”.
In a surprising and sudden move, the apex court on February three gave some hope to the four death row convicts in the sensational Nirbhaya case saying it would re-examine and re-assess the capital punishment awarded to them by the trial court which was upheld by the Delhi High Court.
A bench headed b y justice Dipak Misra took the decision after accepting the contention of the two senior lawyers Raju Ramachandran and Sanjay Hegde who had been appointed as amicus curiae in the case.
Both of them had significantly argued that several principles of code of criminal procedure had not been followed while giving death sentence to all four convicts.
Significantly, Ramachandran had argued that charges and nature of crime alleged against each one of them were separate and all of them could not have been sentenced to death in one brush without hearing them separately on the point of sentence
Ramachandran 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.
He contended that the young age of the convicts, the fact that they had no criminal antecedents, the crime being "not pre-meditated" were mitigating factors in their favour.
Indian courts hand out capital punishment in the "rarest of rare" cases, but it is rarely carried out.
"The crime was not premeditated," Ramachandran had said. "There is no evidence on record to deem the rape and murder was a pre-planned act. The accused did not know victim and had any occasion to believe she would be present at the relevant spot on the fateful day. Trial court failed to even consider this factor which has been treated as a mitigating factor."
In 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 dubbedNirbhaya (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.
Read the order here.