Life is going short, then why death penalty? Convict in Nirbhaya Rape case files Review Petition in SC

Life is going short, then why death penalty? Convict in Nirbhaya Rape case files Review Petition in SC

Meera Emmanuel

One of the men convicted for the 2012 Delhi gang rape case also known as the Nirbhaya rape case has moved a review petition in the Supreme Court against the 2017 judgment sentencing him to death for the same. 

Apart from questioning the evidence presented by the prosecution to prove his guilt and his conviction by the Court, the petition moved by Akshay Kumar Singh also makes general arguments against the death penalty. The review petitioner argues that death penalty entails cold blooding killing and is a simplistic response to complex human problems.

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. Executions only kill the criminal, not the crime and hat the crime not the criminals.”

The petition puts forth moral and practical reasons for the abolition of the death penalty, recounting that there is no evidence proving its deterrent value. The observations of former Chief Justice of India PN Bhagwati that the poor and the downtrodden are more likely to be sent to the gallows, are also cited. Singh’s petition goes on to query,

If our criminal justice system cannot guarantee the consistent application of legal standard and rule of law, how can we then allow judicial to decide who should live or die?

Interestingly, another argument is that since the life-span of a person has been cut short in the present age, there is no reason to continue with the death penalty. In this regard, his petition states,

Why death penalty? When age is reducing, it is mentioned in our Ved, Purans and Upanishads that in the age of Satyug people lived the life of thousand years. In the age of Dwapar they used to live for hundreds of the years But not it is Kalyug, in this era, age of human beings have reduced much. It has now come to 50-60 years, and rarely we listen of a person who is the age of 100 years.

Very few people reach upto the age of 80-90 years. This is almost a very true analysis. When we look around us then we come to the conclusion, more or less this analysis is true when a person faces the stark realities of life and passes through the adverse situation, then he is no better that a dead body [sic].”

Further, citing the rising health risks owing to pollution in India, particularly in New Delhi, it is stated,

Life is going short to short, then why death penalty?”

The petition has been drawn and settled by Advocates AP Singh, VP Singh, Geeta Chauhan, Pratima Rani and Richa Singh, and filed by Advocate Sadashi.

On December 16, 2012, news broke of six men in Delhi having brutally  gang-raped a young woman, later named ‘Nirbhaya’, in a moving bus. The victim succumbed to her injuries two weeks later at a hospital in Singapore. The six accused were apprehended by the police.

Of the six accused, the main accused committed suicide in Tihar jail during the course of the trial and the juvenile accused was sentenced to three years in a remand home upon conviction. The remaining four were handed a death penalty by the Additional Sessions Judge.

The four convicts then approached the Delhi High Court in appeal. However, the High Court upheld the lower court verdict. The Supreme Court too upheld the death penalty in May 2017. In July 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed review petitions filed by two of the accused.

[Read the Review Petition]

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