SC scraps Nirbhaya convict’s petition against dismissal of mercy plea

The court says that alleged sufferings in prison can’t be grounds to challenge the rejection of the mercy petition

Mukesh Singh

Reasoning that expeditious disposal of the mercy plea by the president doesn’t mean non-application of mind, the Supreme Court on Wednesday (January 29) dismissed the plea by Mukesh Kumar Singh, one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, challenging the rejection of his mercy petition.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice R Banumathi also said alleged sufferings in prison can’t be grounds to challenge the rejection of a mercy petition.

The bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, said all relevant material, including judgments pronounced by the trial court, high court and Supreme Court, were placed before President Ram Nath Kovind when he was considering the mercy plea of the convict.

Also Read: SC reserves verdict on Nirbhaya convict’s plea, to be delivered Wednesday

Mukesh is one of the four men on death row for the 2012 gangrape and murder of a physiotherapy intern in Delhi. The trial court has issued black warrants for the execution of the four – Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma and Akshay Kumar – at 6 am on February 1.

The president rejected Mukesh’s mercy plea on January 17.

The apex court bench rejected Mukesh’s counsel’s contention that the entire material of the case was not placed before the president when he was considering the mercy plea.

The bench, while referring to two files placed before it by the Centre on Tuesday, said all relevant documents were sent according to the January 15 covering letter by the Delhi government to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The bench noted that detailed judgements of the trial court, high court and the Supreme Court, Singh’s curative petition, his past criminal history and his family background were sent to the Home Ministry by the Delhi government.

“All the documents were taken into consideration by the president while rejecting the mercy petition,” the bench said.

The bench also dealt with submissions advanced by the convict’s counsel, who argued that the mercy plea was rejected at “lightning speed”.

The bench said if a mercy petition is expeditiously dealt with, it cannot be assumed it has been adjudicated upon with a pre-conceived mind. Mukesh had moved the mercy plea after the Supreme Court dismissed his curative petition against his conviction and death sentence.

Of the other three, the apex court has also rejected the curative petition of Vinay. Akshay approached the Supreme Court on Wednesday with a curative petition. And Pawan is yet to file a curative plea before the apex court.

The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as Nirbhaya, the fearless one, was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in south Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.

(With inputs from agencies.)