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Nirbhaya: Justice R Banumathi faints during order dictation in Centre's plea for separate execution of convicts

Aditi Singh

Supreme Court Judge, Justice R Banumathi today fainted while the order in the Central Government’ appeal against the Delhi High Court order on simultaneous hanging of the four Nirbhaya convicts was being dictated. (Union of India v. Mukesh)

Justice Banumathi soon regained consciousness and was escorted to her chamber by Justices Ashok Bhushan, AS Bonappa and the court staff.

Justuices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, AS Bopanna
Justuices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, AS Bopanna

During the course of the hearing, the Court was informed that till date, only convict Pawan had not preferred curative petition or mercy petition.

Considering that Pawan could not be forced into availing any of these legal remedies, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that it would not be correct to keep the hanging of the other three convicts, ie. Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay, in abeyance.

The High Court, as a last chance, had given last one week. For rest of the convicts, there is no reason why we shouldn't bifurcate (for the purpose of execution)..
SG Tushar Mehta

The Court was further informed that as per the Trial Court's order, Pawan was now being represented by a legal aid counsel, Advocate Ravi Qazi who was given time till February 17 to prepare his case.

In view of the above, the Court asked if it should wait till the Trial Court's hearing.

SG Mehta stated that if the Court wished to wait till the Trial Court hearing, he would have no objections. Apprehending misuse of process of law, SG Mehta added,

“I am not an astrologer but on Monday, there will be an Art 32 Petition by Akshay challenging the rejection of mercy plea.. Like I said, Article 21 is a right, it is not a weapon..”
SG Tushar Mehta

After SG Mehta urged the Court to enquire from the counsel concerned if Akshay was going to challenge the rejection of mercy petition, Advocate AP Singh said,

Please allow me to meet the convict.. Tomorrow is Saturday – Sunday..”

In case the matter was adjourned, SG Mehta requested the Court to clarify that the pendency of this proceeding would not come in the way of issuance of date for execution by the Trial Court.

Advocate Vrinda Grover replied that this clarification had already come in the Court’s previous order.

After briefly hearing the parties, the Court indicated that it would adjourn the matter for the day and Justice Banumathi began dictating the order.

However, Justice Ashok Bhushan took over the dictation after Justice Banumathi expressed discomfort. She soon fainted in her chair and was immediately attended to by Justices Bhushan and Bopanna.

After she regained consciousness, the Bench rose and Justice Bopanna stated that the order would be released later.

Earlier today, the three- Judge Bench also dismissed Vinay's petition challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President of India.

In its order passed in the matter today, the Supreme Court has reiterated that the pendency of these petitions might not be treated as an impediment for the Trial Court to consider the matter on its own merits.

The matter would be heard next on February 20 at 3 pm.

Read the Order:

UOI vs Mukesh - Order Feb 14.pdf