The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition filed by one of the convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case again the rejection of his mercy plea by President Ram Nath Kovind, ANI reported. A day earlier, the top court had reserved its verdict after Mukesh Kumar Singh’s advocate claimed the trial court judgement was not placed before the president when the mercy plea was filed, and that Singh was abused in jail.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna said alleged torture of the convict cannot be a ground for mercy. They added that there was no merit in the contention that all documents were not placed before the president.
“President exercised his power under Article 72 and the executive order cannot be subject to judicial review,” the court said, according to Bar and Bench.
Senior advocate Anjana Prakash had on Tuesday urged the court to invoke its “judicial conscience” to decide if due consideration was given to Singh’s mercy petition. She had said presidential power was open to human fallibility, quoting a Supreme Court judgement from 1989.
On Prakash’s argument that the Ministry of Home Affairs and concerned authorities had rejected the mercy plea at a “lightning speed”, the court said expeditious disposal does not mean non-application of mind by the president.
The trial court has issued black warrants for the execution of all the four convicts – Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh – at 6 am on February 1.
Mukesh Singh had filed the petition on January 25 under Article 32 of the Constitution for judicial review of “the manner of rejection of the mercy petition”, according to his advocate Vrinda Grover. Singh’s petition was listed on Monday before SA Bobde, who said it should be “top priority” since the execution is scheduled for February 1. “If somebody is going to be hanged then nothing can be more urgent than this,” Bobde said.
On January 14, the Supreme Court had rejected the curative petitions of Mukesh Singh and Vinay Sharma. Following this, Singh sought mercy from President Kovind, who rejected it. Singh also moved the Delhi High Court to set aside the death warrant issued by a trial court.
Meanwhile, Akshay Kumar Singh filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, a month after the Supreme Court rejected his plea seeking a review of his death sentence, using bizarre arguments.
The four convicts had raped and brutally assaulted a paramedical student on a bus on the night of December 16, 2012, an incident that had sparked countrywide protests.