Confirming the death penalty awarded earlier, the Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the review petition of Akshay Kumar Singh, one of the convicts in the brutal Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.
On the top court dismissing the fourth convict’s review petition against death penalty, Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi said, “We have gone a step further”.
The Supreme Court has already dismissed the review pleas of three other convicts — Mukesh (30), Pawan Gupta (23) and Vinay Sharma (24) — also on death row. The court found no merit in conducting the review and upheld the capital punishment given by the trial court and confirmed by the Delhi High Court in the case.
One of the accused in the case, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide at Tihar Jail in Delhi.
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.
A 23-year-old paramedic student, who came to be known as Nirbhaya, was gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a running bus in south Delhi by six persons and severely assaulted before being thrown out on the road. She succumbed to injuries on December 29 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
Nirbhaya killer, Akshay, before a newly constituted three-judge bench of the Supreme Court hearing his review petition, had earlier in the day argued that he was falsely implicated in the case.
The newly constituted three-judge bench headed by Justice R Banumathi and also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna was hearing the review petition of Akshay — on death row in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case — seeking the review of the 2017 top court judgement upholding his death penalty.
Dr AP Singh, the lawyer representing the convict, submitted before the top court that he now has new facts in the case. He claimed that the conviction was made against his client under media, public and political pressure.
The lawyer also raised questions on the star witness, Amarinder Pandey, and said that his evidence and submissions in the case are “unreliable”.
Akshay’s advocate further argued that his client is an innocent and poor man who has been falsely implicated in this case.
“Forged reports were prepared. Akshay Kumar Singh was falsely implicated in the case. All were fabricated to book him,” AP Singh told the Supreme Court.
The lawyer further argued that capital punishment should be abolished in India. He said death penalty is a primitive method of punishment and that execution kills the criminals and not the crime. He also added that the use of death penalty did not seem to be a deterrent effect on criminals and convicts.
The convict’s lawyer further said that the victim’s dying declaration is “doubtful” and “tutored”.
“This was not voluntary,” he claimed, saying that the Delhi gangrape victim has not named Akshay as an accused in the crime.
On the first dying declaration, she couldn’t name anyone as the accused who had committed the offence, he said, adding that the cause of death was Septicemia and drug overdose.
Reacting on the convict’s argument, the Centre told the top court that Nirbhaya killer Akshay’s review petition was a cut-paste job of the review petitions of other accused, which were earlier dismissed by the Supreme Court.
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde had on Tuesday recused himself from hearing a petition in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case as his nephew Arjun Bobde appeared for the victim.
The court then constituted another bench to hear the review petition.
Earlier, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde also comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice R Banumathi was hearing the case.
The review plea filed by the convict Akshay Kumar Singh, through his lawyer AP Singh, had sought clemency, citing the depleting air quality and water pollution in the city, which has negatively impacted the life span of the citizens.
Asha Devi, mother of the victim, expressed her relief after SC’s verdict and said,”I am very happy.”
As soon as the bench pronounced the verdict, Advocate AP Singh, appearing for convict Akshay, sought three weeks time to file mercy petition before President. However, the bench said that the mercy petition can be filed within the stipulated time as mentioned in the law.