The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a plea seeking permission to file a fresh curative petition for one of the 2012 Delhi Gangrape and murder convicts, Mukesh Singh.
The Bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah found that the petition was not maintainable since it had been filed by Mukesh's brother, Suresh, and did not include any signed affidavit by the death row convict.
As Mukesh's lawyer, Adv ML Sharma urged the court to hear his submissions, Justice Mishra pulled him up for not complying with fundamental requirements of filing such a petition.
"How does his brother know what happened inside jail, with the authorities? What is the source of information cited by Suresh? It is mandatory to give the source of information. There is no signed affidavit by Mukesh (to substantiate the claims) so how do we know where the information came from?"
Sharma argued that Suresh met his brother in jail and was given information by Mukesh. It is not uncommon, urged Sharma. "You are doing something very objectionable", warned Mishra J.
When the hearing commenced, Sharma accused senior advocate Vrinda Grover, who was earlier appointed Mukesh's lawyer in the absence of Sharma, of being in cahoots with the government in trying to expedite the execution of the convicts. "It is a very serious issue", submitted Sharma while accusing Grover of obtaining Mukesh's approval for filing a curative petition fraudulently. She threatened Mukesh by saying he would be hanged if he didn't sign the vakalatnama (authorising her to file a curative petition on his behalf), alleged Sharma. He went on to refer to Article 137 of the Limitation Act, 1963 to assert that a curative petition could be filed upto 3 years after the review was dismissed and alleged that Grover had not informed Mukesh of the same.
The Bench interjected to assert that it had been over 1.5 years since the review had been dismissed, and subsequently a death warrant had been issued. "Had she not filed a curative then, you would have hung long ago...you were saved by this petition", said Mishra J.
Supreme Court Bar Association secretary, Ashok Arora, was present in court and said that this was no way to talk about a senior member of the Bar (Vrinda Grover) and such allegations were uncalled for. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the government of NCT, also voiced his disapproval of such allegations saying "we might have differences of opinion, but Ms Grover did a great job."
Sharma's contention was that even after 2.5 years, a convict had the right to move a curative petition, and if that remedy had not been exhausted, the court was bound to postpone the execution of the death warrant. "You cannot force someone to file a curative, and if that option is available to me, I cannot be hanged", he urged. The Bench, however, observed that an appeal is a matter of right but a review and curative were remedies available, but not necessarily a relief.
All four death row convicts are scheduled to be executed, as per their death warrant, on March 20 at 5.30 am
Picture Courtesy: The Quint