Nirbhaya Convicts’ Last Plea: What Happened in Late Night Hearing

In late-night hearing, SC rejected the final plea saying no ground to challenge the rejection of mercy plea by prez.

2 min read

Video Producer: Shohini Bose

Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

After 7 years and 4 months, Nirbhaya, fondly known as the daughter of India, received justice at 5:30 am on Friday, 20 March, as all four convicts in the gang rape and murder case – Pawan Kumar Gupta, Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay – were hanged to death.

Before the hanging took place, all eyes were on the courts where five different petitions were filed to stay the execution. However, all of them were eventually rejected.

Three petitions were dismissed by the apex court, one each by the Delhi High Court and the executing trial court.

Both Supreme Court and high court hearings took place late-night when most of India was asleep in anticipation.

1. What Happened in Supreme Court?

Just a few hours before the execution, a three-judge Supreme Court bench of Justices R Banumathi. Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna heard the petition of death row convict Pawan Gupta against the rejection of his mercy plea by the President and seeking a stay on execution.

The petition was largely based on claims that Pawan's 2nd mercy plea to the President was wrongly dismissed. The court also heard at length Pawan's lawyer A P Singh and Shams Khwaja, who contended that Gupta was juvenile at the time of the commission of offence. These claims were rejected by the court in earlier hearings too.

The Supreme Court, however, dismissed the final attempt saying no ground was made out to warrant judicial review of the President’s decision to reject his mercy plea.

In this 2.30 am hearing, the bench said "We do not find any ground to challenge the rejection of mercy petition by the President".

"When the power vests with the highest authority, it is assumed that their was proper application of mind", court added.

2. What Happened in High Court?

Before the Supreme Court's hearing, at around 9.30 pm on Thursday a Division Bench headed by Justice Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula heard an appeal filed by Nirbhaya convicts against the order of sessions judge refusing to stay the death warrant against them.

While dismissing the plea, the bench said pending pleas of the convicts in various fora is untenable in law as a ground to stay execution.

The high court in its order also said that plea of juvenility of Pawan had been raised all the way up to the Supreme Court and was rejected each time and therefore, it cannot be agitated in the present case.

Appearing for the convicts, advocate AP Singh said,”the trial court had wrongly dismissed his stay application today.” To which, Justice Manmohan, said, “How do you expect us to take this up, it’s a shoddy petition.”

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