The Supreme Court on Wednesday deprecated the arguments advanced by one of the December 2012 Delhi gangrape case convicts who questioned the “futility” of awarding death sentence by saying that life span of people was already decreasing due to pollution in Delhi-NCR.
While rejecting the plea by of Akshay Kumar Singh (33), a bench headed by Justice R Banumathi termed as “unfortunate” the arguments advanced by advocate A P Singh, appearing for the convict, that in ‘Kalyug’ there was no need of awarding death sentence as a person is “no better than a dead body”.
“We find it unfortunate that such grounds have been raised in the matter as serious as the present case,” the bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna, said in its verdict on Akshay’s plea seeking a review of its 2017 judgement upholding the death penalty awarded to him.
On the convict’s contention that several countries have already abolished death penalty, the bench said orally, “So long as death penalty is there in the statute, we cannot do anything. It is for the legislature to look into.”
With this verdict on the plea of convict Akshay Kumar Singh (33), the review petitions of all the four death row convicts in the case stand dismissed by the top court.
In its 20-page verdict, the bench noted the two grounds raised by Akshay’s counsel “(i) futility of awarding death sentence in Kalyug, where a person is no better than a dead body; and (ii) that the level of pollution in Delhi-NCR is so great that life is short anyhow and everyone is aware of what is happening in Delhi-NCR in this regard and while so, there is no reason why death penalty should be awarded.”
Singh had argued that on these two grounds, the convict should be spared the death sentence.
The bench also dealt with Singh’s arguments that death penalty is the “ultimate denial of human rights” as it violates the right to life and also goes against the principle of non-violence.
“In the review petition, the petitioner has put forth the general case against capital punishment by stating that only the poor and down-trodden are more likely to be sentenced with death sentence. Such general contentions put forth against the capital punishment cannot be gone into in this review petition,” the bench said.
During the arguments on the review plea, Singh said that several countries have already abolished death penalty.
“We had considered the mitigating and aggravating circumstances in the main judgement. So long as death penalty is there in the statute, we cannot do anything. It is for the legislature to look into,” the bench said orally.
In its verdict, the court said that grounds raised in the review plea alleging “improper investigation and manipulation of evidence” were “too general and not specific.”
“It is to be pointed out that each and every point raised by the petitioner-accused assailing the course of investigation was well considered by the trial court which we have gone through at the time of hearing of the criminal appeals. The same points cannot be urged again and again,” it said.
It said that ground raised by the convict questioning the medical evidence, including use of iron rod for brutally assaulting the victim, was already rejected by the apex court in its 2017 verdict.
On July 9 last year, the top court had dismissed the review pleas filed by the other three convicts— Mukesh (30), Pawan Gupta (23) and Vinay Sharma (24)— in the case, saying no grounds have been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.
The 23-year-old paramedic student was gangraped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a moving bus in south Delhi by six persons before being thrown out on the road. She died on December 29, 2012 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail. A juvenile was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.
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