Two other Nirbhaya case convicts, Akshay Kumar Singh and Vinay Kumar Sharma, filed separate petitions on Wednesday (January 29). As per law, if a convict is awarded death sentence, he has three options — review petition, curative petition before the Supreme Court and finally mercy petition before the President.
Accordingly, Vinay Kumar Sharma filed a mercy petition to the President after his curative petition was rejected by the apex court and Akshay Kumar Singh filed a curative petition in SC which will be heard on Thursday (January 30).
Akshay Kumar in his petition said that capital punishment is being awarded by courts as ‘panacea’ in the face of public pressure and public opinion on violence against women.
A bench comprising Justices N.V. Ramana, Arun Mishra, R.F. Nariman, R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan will take up the curative petition — the last legal recourse available to a person in a court of law.
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The petition said that lack of criminal antecedents, erroneous reliance on deterrence, and the probability of reformation, socio-economic circumstances, non-consideration of constitution bench judgment, were not considered by the courts while awarding his client to death.
The convict, Akshay Kumar Singh (31), said the apex court “in its confidence of handing out the death penalty as proportional punishment on the basis of how brutal the crime is, exposes the inconsistency of this court and all other criminal courts in this country that have handed out the death penalty as panacea for public pressure and public opinion on violence against women, despite no evidentiary link between its selective application and reduction in crime.”
Akshay sought to know from the apex court what danger could the Petitioner pose to society if he is kept alive within the four corners of his cell and allowed to earn a meagre income for his family within the prison.
“The petitioner has seen many life convicts who were ridden with poverty but at least could send little amounts home to their poverty-ridden families. The petitioner puts to this court why imprisonment to the end of his life will not satisfy the collective conscience despite the only difference between such a sentence as opposed to the death penalty is the celebration of violence that will soon follow after the death of the Petitioner in the hands of the state’s machinery,” he said.
The third convict Mukesh Kumar Singh is the only convict to have exhausted all his options. However, As per law, if multiple people have been sentenced to death for the same crime, they cannot be executed separately.
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The fourth, Pawan Gupta, has not filed a curative petition, which he still can if he chooses to.
The trial court has issued black warrants for the execution of all the four convicts — Mukesh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay — at 6 am on February 1.
Their victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’ (the fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, on a moving bus in South Delhi. Days later, she succumbed to death in a Singapore hospital.
(With inputs from agencies)