Nirbhaya case convict Akshay Singh files review petition in SC against death penalty

Akshay Singh Thakur, who had not filed the review plea earlier with the other three convicts, has now moved the apex court with the petition.

One of the four condemned men in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday for a review of its 2017 judgment confirming his death sentence, saying “executions only kill criminals, not the crime.”

The latest review petition against the death penalty in the Nirbhaya case once again brings the long-pending punishment in the gruesome rape-murder case under doubt.

The review petition has been filed and accepted by the Supreme Court registry.

Two other convicts in the case, Vinay and Pawan Kumar Gupta, will not file a curative in the Supreme Court now. According to the lawyer for the convicts, only after the disposal of Akshay’s review petition, the three other convicts will file a curative petition together.

“The state must not simply execute people to prove that it is attacking terror or violence against women. It must persistently work towards systematic reforms to bring about change,” Akshay Kumar Singh, who faces the gallows, urged in his plea to the court to reconsider his fate.

Akshay, who is 33, along with Mukesh (30), Pawan Gupta (23) and Vinay Sharma (24) brutally gangraped a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012. She succumbed to her injuries a few days later.

The case shocked the nation and led to the tightening of anti-rape laws. Rape, especially gangrape, is now a capital crime.

Pleas Dismissed

The apex court had dismissed the review petitions of Mukesh, Gupta and Sharma in July last year. They are left with the extremely rare remedy of filing curative petitions in the Supreme Court.

Akshay, however, had not joined them, opting to file his review petition now when authorities were reportedly making preparations in Tihar Jail for their execution.

One of the accused in the case, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail here. A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board. He was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.

In his review petition, Akshay contended that his conviction and sentence was due to public and political pressure. They were like “guinea pigs.” “Where they are unable to identify the real accused, they implicate many innocent people,” he claimed. He said caste, creed, financial status, political approach and pressure play a role in the investigation in such cases.

“Death penalty is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state in the name of justice… Death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights, goes against the principle of non-violence,” Akshay said in his review petition.

In a paragraph in the petition, Akshay said the air quality in Delhi NCR is like a “gas chamber.” The water “is also full of poison” and “life is going short to short, then why death penalty?”

Another convict in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape-and-murder case, Pawan Gupta, who was lodged in the Mandoli Jail, has been shifted to Tihar.

Pawan Kumar Gupta, who was lodged in the Mandoli Jail, was recently shifted to Tihar, Director General (Prison) Sandeep Goel said.

Gupta is lodged in Jail No. 2 of Tihar, where two other convicts in the case — Mukesh Singh and Akshay — are also lodged, while Vinay Sharma is in Jail No. 4 of Tihar, another jail official said.