The Supreme Court Monday upheld the death penalty imposed on three convicts, Mukesh, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Kumar Gupta, in the 2012 Delhi gangrape and murder case. A bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan “dismissed” their review petitions, saying no ground has been made out in the petitions for reversing their conviction and sentence. The court noted that contentions in their review pleas were already gone into by the court in the past and they could not be allowed to “re-argue”.
On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old paramedic student was gangraped inside a running bus in South Delhi by six persons and severely assaulted before being thrown out on the road. She died of her injuries on December 29, 2012 at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. One of the accused, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail in March 2013 while another, a juvenile then, served time in a probation home.
Rejecting the review petition filed by Mukesh, the bench said that submissions by his counsel M L Sharma “are more or less the submissions which were advanced at the time of hearing of the appeal and this court had already considered the relevant submissions and dealt them in its judgment dated 05.05.2017. This court had cautiously gone into and revisited the entire evidences on record and after being fully satisfied had dismissed the appeal”.
“By the review petition, the petitioner cannot be allowed to re-argue the appeal on merits of the case by pointing out certain evidences and materials which were on the record and were already looked into by the trial court, High Court and this court as well,” the bench said.
Sharma claimed that though Mukesh wanted him as counsel, police had “imposed” another advocate on him and “compelled to give his confession statement under Section 313 CrPC”.
The Supreme Court, however, cited trial court records to state that Sharma had not appeared on several occasions, forcing the court to appoint an amicus curiae.
The bench also rejected Sharma’s submission that statement of the accused recorded under Section 313 CrPC was under pressure and influence of the amicus curiae, saying it “has no legs to stand”.
“The above argument is stated to be rejected since the statement was recorded by the court and the accused was coming from judicial custody and could not be tortured by the police as alleged,” it said.
On the charge that Mukesh was tortured by police, the bench said the trial court had interacted with him on many occasions and he had not made any complaint then.
Sharma also claimed that Mukesh did not know driving and only had a licence for driving LMV (light motor vehicles).
Appearing for Delhi Police, senior advocate Sidharth Luthra said this was not raised during the trial or during the cross-examination of the witnesses and, hence, it could not be allowed to be raised now.
The court rejected Mukesh’s defence saying “this court in its judgment dated 05.05.2017 has held after marshalling evidence of Prosecution Witness (PW) 1 and other evidences including scientific evidences that Mukesh was driving the bus. The issue whether he had a driving licence for driving the bus or not has no relevance with regard to conviction recorded against the accused which has been affirmed by the High Court and this court as well”.
Advocate A P Singh, appearing for Vinay Sharma and Pawan Kumar Gupta, pointed to death penalty being abolished in several countries and demanded that it be done away with in India too.
He also disputed the use of the of iron rod to attack the victim, saying this was not mentioned by PW1 in his statement. “Had the iron rod been really inserted through the vagina, it would have first destroyed the uterus before the intestines were pulled out. There were no rod related injuries in her uterus and medical science too does not assist the prosecution in their claim,” the counsel said.
He also cited an alibi for Vinay Sharma, claiming he was in a musical programme arranged by a local church in his locality when the incident is alleged to have happened.
The court rejected the argument on death penalty saying “so far the death penalty remains in the Penal Code the courts cannot be held to commit any illegality in awarding death penalty in appropriate cases”.
The bench ruled “this court noted the injuries and medical evidence and has concluded that accused had used iron rod. Those submissions having been raised, dealt with by this court in the main judgment, the petitioners cannot be allowed to raise the same again”.
It also rejected the alibi theory, saying the DDA had said that it had not given any permission for any such musical event and the priest of the church too had denied that any such function was organised.