The Delhi High Court on Thursday said the Supreme Court judgement confirming the death sentence to four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case has attained finality and that it cannot review it, PTI reported. The court is still hearing the case.
The division bench of the High Court was hearing a last-minute petition filed by three of the four convicts seeking a stay on their hanging. They are scheduled to be hanged to death at 5.30 am on Friday. This is the fourth time death warrants have been issued against them as they have taken turns to file multiple petitions in the last few months in an attempt to escape the death penalty.
Mukesh Singh, Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and two others – a juvenile who was released after spending three years in a juvenile detention centre, and main accused Ram Singh, who died in prison – raped and brutally assaulted a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi on December 16, 2012. Weeks later, on December 29, the woman died at a hospital in Singapore. Her death led to several protests and more conversation about crimes against women. It also led to some changes in law.
Akshay Kumar Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma moved the Delhi High Court after a trial court dismissed their petition seeking a stay on the execution earlier in the day. The plea in the lower court was moved on the grounds that the second mercy petition filed by convict Akshay Thakur was pending before the president.
The convicts’ counsel, advocate AP Singh, listed various petitions pending before different courts, including a divorce petition and a case before the International Court of Justice, to seek a stay. But Justice Manmohan said they were not relevant to the death warrant.
“Your judgement has attained finality,” Manmohan said, according to Bar and Bench. “We cannot sit and review this judgement. We cannot say that the death warrant will cease to exist or will not take place.”
The court also criticised AP Singh for not making substantive points at the eleventh hour. “We are close to the time where your client can meet God. Don’t waste time. We have no time,” the judge said. “We will not be able to help you at the eleventh... You have four-five hours. If you want to make use [of it], tell us. If you have a point then come to that.”
The judge added: “You have to be fair to your client and your client has to be fair to us. You should come with some substantive point at the 11th hour. There is no foundation in your petition.”
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by Mukesh Singh, claiming that the trial was vitiated on account of concealment of documents and evidence. A three-judge bench head by Justice R Banumathi said the court cannot “endlessly review” its orders. Advocate ML Sharma, representing Singh, said the convict has accepted his fate and does not want to delay the execution.
“All your remedies are over, review, curative, mercy – all rights have been exercised, how can you now come and say that some documents were not placed on record,” Banumathi asked the convict. The court dismissed the petition, saying there is no merit and reason to entertain it after all the rights and remedies given to the accused were exercised and heard at length by them.
The top court also rejected Pawan Gupta’s petition claiming that he was a juvenile when the crime took place.