Vinay Sharma, a death row convict in the Nirbhaya rape case moves to the Supreme Court challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President of India, Ram NathKovind

Vinay Sharma, a death row convict in the Nirbhaya rape case moves to the Supreme Court challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President of India, Ram NathKovind

Vinay moved the Supreme Court contending that the rejection of his mercy plea by the President is bad in law and liable to be set aside since it was underscored by bias and non-application of mind. Vinay Sharma, a death row convict in the Nirbhaya rape case has moved a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President of India, RamNath Kovind.

Prior Facts:

The trial court had on January 31 stayed “till further orders” execution of the four convicts in the case — Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31), who are lodged in Tihar Jail. President Ram Nath Kovind had on February 1 rejected the clemency plea of Vinay. The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’ (fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.

Six people including the four convicts, Ram Singh and a juvenile — were named as accused. The trial of the five adult men began in a special fast-track court in March 2013. Ram Singh, the prime accused, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in Tihar jail days after the trial began. The juvenile, who was said to be the most brutal of the attackers, was put in a correctional home for three years. The juvenile was released in 2015 and sent to an undisclosed location amid concerns over a threat to his life. He, when released, was 20 years old. Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay and Pawan were sentenced to death in September 2013 by the trial court.

Key Features:

  • The 3-judge bench, headed by Justice R Banumathi and also comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna, earlier said the pendency of the appeal filed by the Centre and Delhi government before it would not be an impediment for the trial court in issuing fresh date for execution of the convicts.
  • Solicitor General Tuhar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the Delhi government, said the execution of the convicts is not for “enjoyment” and the authorities are only executing the mandate of the law.
  • He said three of them have exhausted their remedies but one of them, Pawan Gupta, has not yet filed either curative plea in the apex court or mercy petition before the President.
  • He said the court has to keep in mind the impact of this on the society as despite the fact that appeals of the convict were dismissed by the top court in 2017, the authorities were “struggling to execute them even now”.
  • Mehta referred to the alleged encounter killing of four accused in the gang rape and murder case of a woman veterinarian in Hyderabad and said “people had celebrated after this and this was because people have started losing faith in the system. This reflects poorly on our system”.
  • The court had initially said that issuing notice to the convicts would further delay the matter but did it later on the appeal filed by the Centre and Delhi government.
  • Vinay Sharma has moved to court contending that, “public statements made by several ministers in the Council of Ministers in the Delhi Government as well as the Union Government reflect that they strongly support the execution of the Petitioner and had therefore pre-judged the outcome of is mercy petition, even before it was filed by the Petitioner”.
  • In view of these submissions, Vinay has relied on the Supreme Court’s recent judgment in X vs State of Maharashtra (2019) to argue that the death penalty imposed on him ought to be commuted.
  • He also submits that he was kept in illegal solitary and segregated confinement for over a year. Owing to his degrading treatment in jail, Vinay has submitted that he has developed serious physical and mental health problems.
  • Vinay argues that his imprisonment was marked by relentless and excruciating torture from the day of his arrest by both prison officials and other inmates.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Vaibhav Goyal
Vaibhav Goyal is a 3rd year BA.LLB (H) student of UILS, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. He also basically belongs to the “City Beautiful-Chandigarh”. He had interned and have work experience at various Central and State Government bodies of India including the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi; the Central Information Commission, New Delhi; U.T. Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, etc. His research projects includes the study on the Right to Emergency Services (PSHRC), Resettlement of Migrant People (NHRC), Implications of RTI in Financial Institutions (CIC), etc. His publications involve articles in different fields of law like administrative, jurisprudence, etc. on online journals including the Juscholars Blog, Burnished Law Journal, etc. His research paper on Prison Reform was published in the Panjab University Journal and his paper was selected in category of best abstract on the topic of Naxalism: A State of Lawlessness and Arbitrariness. He had scored well in various competitions of law consisting of Quiz, Essay Writing, Lecture, Declamation, etc. He had also participated in various conferences including the World Law Forum Conference on Strategic Lawsuits on Public Participation held in New Delhi on Oct 20, 2018 and the National Law Conclave 2020 held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on Jan 11, 2020.