'Don't Want to Live as His Widow': Wife of Convict in Nirbhaya Case Files for Divorce
Puneeta, the wife of Akshay Singh Thakur, has said in her plea that although she is convinced of her husband's innocence, she does not want to spend the rest of her life as his widow.
Women carry a floral tribute at an event to mark the anniversary of the brutal gangrape of a student on a bus in Delhi. (File Photo/Reuters)
The wife of one of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape-and-murder case has filed for divorce days before her husband is expected to be hanged. Puneeta, the wife of Akshay Singh Thakur, has approached the chief judicial magistrate of the Aurangabad family courts, seeking separation. In her divorce application, she has pleaded that her husband has been convicted and awarded capital punishment, in the December 16, 2012 fatal gang-rape case. She says that although she is convinced of her husband's innocence, she does not want to live the rest of her life as Akshay Singh Thakur's widow.
A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as Nirbhaya (fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012. She died a fortnight later. Six people, including the four convicts and a juvenile, were named as accused. Ram Singh, a sixth accused, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail days after the trial began in the case. The juvenile was released in 2015 after spending three years in a correctional home.
Puneeta's lawyer, MK Singh, told News18 that under section 13(2)(II) of the Hindu Marriage Act, a wife is allowed to divorce her husband if he is convicted of heinous offences which include rape.
Akshay Singh Thakur hails from a village called Lahang-Karma in Bihar's Aurangabad district. Four convicts in the Nirbhaya case—Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh—are to be hanged on March 20 at 5.30 in the morning. Not long ago, some of the family members of the convicts had written to the President of India seeking permission to undergo euthanasia.
Mercy petitions and review petitions of all four men have been rejected by the judiciary. The convicts, as a last-ditch attempt, have moved the International Court of Justice, seeking a stay on their execution.
On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected the plea of Mukesh Singh seeking restoration of all his legal remedies, alleging that his previous lawyers misled him. The top court held Singh's plea as not maintainable, saying that the review petition and the curative petition have both been dismissed in the case. A Delhi court on Tuesday dismissed his plea, seeking quashing of his death penalty while claiming he was not in Delhi on the day of the crime.
The execution of the convicts’ death warrants has been deferred three times so far due to delays by them in exhausting legal remedies.
After a fresh death warrant was issued, the Tihar Jail authorities wrote to their counterparts in Uttar Pradesh, requesting for the service of hangman Pawan Jallad. According to the jail authorities, dummy executions would be conducted after the arrival of Jallad.
Of the four convicts, Mukesh, Pawan and Vinay have had their last face-to-face meetings with their respective families. The authorities have written to the family of Akshay about the date for a final meeting before the scheduled date of execution.
The jail authorities have also not stopped the convicts' weekly meetings with their families yet.
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