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[Breaking] Nirbhaya: Supreme Court dismisses juvenility plea of death row convict, Pawan Kumar Gupta

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today dismissed the plea filed by Pawan Gupta, one of the convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case, claiming that he was a juvenile at the time when he committed the offence.

Gupta had approached the Apex Court against the decision of the Delhi High Court delivered on December 19, 2019.

The Supreme Court Bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, and AS Bopanna had reserved its judgment on Pawan Gupta's plea for juvenility after taking up the case for hearing at 1.45 in the afternoon

Jusices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna
Jusices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna

While dismissing the plea, the Court said that while the law does provide for a plea of juvenility to be raised at any stage, the same provision cannot be used to re-agitate the issue repeatedly, especially when the issue has been decided on by all Courts up to the Supreme Court.

The judgment also goes to explain the scope and extent of the provisions under Section 7A of the Supreme Court. It said,

"Section 7A of the JJ Act stipulates that an application can be filed before any court at any stage including the stage after the final disposal of the petition. However, once a convict has chosen to take the plea of juvenility before the learned Magistrate, High Court and also before the Supreme Court and the said plea has been rejected up to the Supreme Court, the petitioner cannot be allowed to reagitate the plea of juvenility by filing fresh application under Section 7A of the JJ Act."

The Court thus said that it finds no reason to interfere with the decision of the Delhi High Court.

This development comes close in the heels of a Delhi court issuing a fresh warrant last Friday for the execution of the death penalty of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape case. As per this warrant, the four convicts i.e. Akshay, Pawan, Mukesh and Vinay are to be hanged on February 1 at 6 am.

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