New Delhi: A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the curative pleas filed by Nirbhaya case convicts Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh, paving the way for their execution on January 22.
The bench of Justices NV Ramana, Arun Mishra, RF Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan, which was hearing the pleas, found no merit in the petitions.
Vinay and Mukesh had moved a curative petition — the last legal remedy available to convicts — in the top court after a Delhi court issued a death warrant in their name and announced January 22 as the date of their execution.
Two other convicts Pawan and Akshay are also slated to be executed on the same day at 7am in Delhi's Tihar Jail premises.
Alleging systematic bias against poor, Vinay had cited the Jessica Lall murder case, stating that Siddharth Vashisht/Manu Sharma was given life imprisonment and not death sentence despite it being a "brutal and unprovoked murder of a defenceless woman".
"The convict was a very powerful person from a political family. This inequity of outcome between the petitioner's case and those mentioned above highlights the fundamental divide in the criminal justice system where the poor and the weak always suffer the 'worst punishments', even when people from other classes are guilty of offences that are barbaric and henious. It also indicates a systematic bias against the poor which has caused prejudice against the petitioner," the plea read.
In his curative plea, Sharma further said his young age has been erroneously rejected as a mitigating circumstance. "The impugned judgment is bad in law as subsequent judgments of apex court have definitely changed the law on death sentence in India allowing several convicts similarly placed as him to have their death sentence commuted to life imprisonment," the plea said.
It also said that after pronouncement of the apex court's judgment in 2017 there have been as many as 17 cases involving rape and murder in which various three-judge benches of the top court have commuted the death sentence.
The 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was gang raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 in a moving bus in south Delhi by six people before being thrown out on the road.She died on December 29, 2012 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
On July 9, 2018, the apex court had dismissed the review pleas filed by the other three convicts in the case, saying no grounds have been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict. One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail here.
A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term. The top court in its 2017 verdict had upheld the capital punishment awarded to them by the Delhi High Court and the trial court.
A dummy execution of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya case was performed at Tihar Jail on Sunday, prison officials said. The dummies were created using sacks filled with debris and stones as per the weight of the convicts, a senior jail official said.
The execution will take place on in Jail No 3, he said, adding that the UP Prison authority has confirmed that Pawan Jallad from Meerut will be sent to hang the four convicts.