SC verdict today on appeals of Nirbhaya case convicts

Thursday, May 4th, 2017, 7:25 pm

The four have opposed death penalty for the December 16, 2012 gangrape, murder

The Supreme Court will on Friday pronounce the judgment on the appeals filed by four death row convicts against death penalty in the December 16, 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.

The brutal crime against the 23-year-old had created public furore for a more stringent law to deal with sex crimes against women. She was brutally assaulted and raped by six persons on a moving bus in South Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle with her male friend on the night of December 16, 2012. She died days later in a Singapore hospital.

Nirbhaya Act

In 2013, Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 or the Anti-Rape Bill, which was later called the Nirbhaya Act, came into existence. The new law mandated death penalty under Section 376A of the Indian Penal Code.

Under Section 376A, whoever commits rape, which leads to the death of the victim or causes her to be in a “persistent vegetative state,” shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a minimum term of 20 years which may extend to life or with death.

Marathon hearings

The three-judge Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra wrapped up the marathon hearings on their appeals on March 27. The appeals were heard for almost a year on a day-to-day basis.

The arguments ended with senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the Delhi Police, strongly pushing for death penalty for the convicts as a proportionate punishment for their “brutal crime.”

Amicus curiae and senior advocate Raju Ramachandran had, however, opposed, asking the court to consider sentencing the convicts to a life in prison.

Incidentally, the Bench had prima facie agreed with the contention of the amicus that Section 235 of the Code of Criminal Procedure — which provides that a trial court should individually hear a convict before sentencing him — was not followed in this case.

Young age

Advocates A.P. Singh and M.L. Sharma, appearing for the convicts, asked the court to consider their family background and young age as mitigating factors.

The convicts — Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh — had approached the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court decision confirming the death penalty awarded to them by the trial court.