Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde recused himself on Tuesday (December 17) from hearing the plea of convict Akshay Kumar Singh seeking review of the 2017 apex court judgment upholding his death penalty in the Nirbhaya gang rape-and-murder case.
At the outset, a special bench comprising the CJI and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan made it clear that review pleas have to be heard by another appropriate bench.
The CJI said one of his relatives had earlier appeared on behalf of the victim’s mother in the case and observed that it would be appropriate that some other bench hear the review plea at 10:30 am.
Advocate A P Singh, appearing for Akshay, started his submission saying that the case in hand has suffered political and media pressure and grave injustice has been done to the convict.
Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh are on death row for the gang rape and murder of the 23-year-old woman who was tortured on a bus that she and a friend boarded in south Delhi’s Munirka. A fifth adult suspect in the case, Ram Singh, purportedly committed suicide in prison before the trial ended and a sixth was a minor at the time of the crime.
Akshay Thakur, the only one of the four convicts who hadn’t filed a review petition earlier, filed the plea against the backdrop of reports that Tihar jail officers are making preparations for the hanging of the four men.
The arrangements for the execution of the four convicts have begun at Tihar jail in Delhi, with special ropes being brought from a jail in Bihar’s Buxar. The authorities have also written to other states for services of hangmen and have begun inspection of the courtyard and other equipment.
(With PTI inputs)