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The Supreme Court today dismissed pleas filed by Nirbhaya convicts Mukesh and Akshay Singh, who are scheduled to be hanged tomorrow.
The order was passed by a Bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, and AS Bopanna.
The Court first heard a fresh petition filed by Mukesh, one of the convicts of the 2012 gang rape case, who claimed that the trial stands vitiated because there was concealment of documents.
Advocate ML Sharma, appearing for Mukesh, however said that his client has accepted his fate and does not seek to delay the execution. He went on the say that in future, no innocent person should be made to suffer on account of media pressure.
Sharma further asked aloud,
"The question is if justice was given to the accused."
In response, Justice Bhushan said that judicial review has its own limitations and the petitioner cannot keep raising some point or the other.
When Sharma asserted again that there was concealment of documents, the Court replied that documents are a matter of trial, and that all the points have been argued already.
Sharma went on to insist that Mukesh was not in Delhi on the day of the crime. He went on to argue that the only document that proves that he was not in Delhi on the day of the crime, was not placed on record.
The Court once again said that the point has been argued before and considered.
Justice Banumathi retorted,
"All your remedies are over, review, curative, mercy - all rights have been exercised, how can you now come and say that some documents were not placed on record?"
When the Court said that it cannot entertain the plea, Sharma pleaded for five more minutes to argue. During this time, he argued on the point of concealment of medical reports.
After hearing Sharma's submissions, the Supreme Court dismissed the fresh petition. It held that there is no reason to entertain the plea after all the rights and remedies afforded to the accused were exercised, and the matter was heard at length by the courts.
The Court then began hearing the plea filed by another convict, Akshay Singh, against the rejection of his mercy plea by the President.
Appearing for the convict, Advocate AP Singh claimed that in this case, "every pillar of democracy is under pressure".
He told the Court that a complete mercy plea was filed before the President yesterday, and today he learnt through media of the rejection of the same. He said that he did not receive any correspondence of the rejection.
When the Court pointed out that the mercy plea was rejected in February this year, Singh said that it was an incomplete one, and subsequently, a "compete" mercy plea was filed by him. This new mercy plea was rejected in a hurry under media pressure, he said.
Justice Bhushan replied,
"Scope of judicial review is very limited. We are not hearing the first appeal, you're challenging the decision of the President"
"But it's a matter of human rights."
To this, Justice Bhushan shot back,
"Every time you say human rights, you're arguing about a person who has been convicted and sentenced to death."
Singh further argued that there was a hurry to hang the convicts, and as such, death warrant was issued four times. He added that the case was tainted by bias since Ministers and public figures made statements against the convicts, leading to prejudice and bias.
It was further submitted that media reports and public statements led to miscarriage of justice and that Akshay's mercy plea was considered properly.
Justice Banumathi responded,
"The decision on mercy plea was taken by the highest Constitutional authority. How can you say he was influenced?"
Singh then pointed out that a number of cases in relation to the accused persons remain pending before various courts. This includes Akshay's divorce case, Vinay's case alleging torture in prison, and others. Singh asked the Bench what would happen of these cases after execution.
The counsel then pleaded that the death sentence be commuted to a life term. He cited former Supreme Court judge, Justice Kurian Joseph, who he said favoured commutation of the death sentence of the Nirbhaya convicts in an interview.
After hearing the arguments, the Court dismissed the plea filed by Akshay Singh challenging the decision of the President of India to reject his mercy plea.
The Court held that there is limited scope of judicial review, and that it found no reason to interfere with the President's decision.
Yesterday, the Delhi High Court dismissed Mukesh's revision petition against yesterday's trial court order dismissing his plea to quash his conviction.
On March 17, a Delhi Court dismissed convict Mukesh's plea to quash his conviction on the ground that the Prosecution concealed vital documents during the trial.
The Supreme Court earlier today rejected the curative petition moved by another convict, Pawan Kumar Gupta against the Court's earlier verdict rejecting his claim that he was a juvenile at the time of the offence.