The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed Delhi gangrape convict Pawan Gupta’s claim that he was a juvenile at the time of the crime in 2012, Bar and Bench reported. Gupta, one of the death-row convicts in the case, had moved the top court after the Delhi High Court had rejected his claim and fined his lawyer AP Singh Rs 25,000 for wasting its time.
Gupta’s counsel AP Singh claimed in the top court on Monday that the government had concealed evidence of the convict’s juvenility from the court, and there was a “big conspiracy” in it, Live Law reported. He cited Gupta’s school-leaving certificate to claim that his date of birth was in 1996. He claimed that previous courts had not addressed this concern as they had heard the matter in a hurry and there was a media trial.
However, the bench pointed out that the certificate was obtained in February 2017, by when Gupta had already been convicted. The judges said he had made a similar claim earlier in courts, but it had been rejected.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that Gupta’s concerns and the material cited by him had already been considered and dismissed. He said the trial court had rightly concluded that Gupta was not a juvenile at the time of the crime. Mehta added that one can raise a plea for juvenility at any time, but it cannot be raised repeatedly even after it has been rejected.
Rejecting Gupta’s petition last month, the Delhi High Court had imposed a penalty on AP Singh for using delaying tactics, and had asked the Bar Council of Delhi to take action against him for making the claims.
A court had earlier scheduled the execution of the four convicts in the case for January 22, but one convict, Mukesh Singh, filed a mercy plea before President Ram Nath Kovind. On Friday, Kovind rejected the mercy petition, but due to the delay, new death warrants had to be issued. The executions are now scheduled for 6 am on February 1.
The other two convicts are Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh.
Six men raped and brutally assaulted a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in a moving bus in Delhi on the night of December 16, 2012. The woman succumbed to her injuries two weeks later at a hospital in Singapore. The gangrape triggered huge protests in the Capital and across the country. One convict died in prison, while a minor convict was sent to a detention home for juveniles and was released in December 2015.
The four other convicts were given the death penalty – first by a trial court in September 2013, which was upheld by the Delhi High Court six months later and the Supreme Court in May 2017. The top court rejected review petitions filed by three of them in 2018, and of the fourth convict last month.