Nirbhaya Case Verdict: No Review, SC Upholds Death Penalty

Why did the SC dismiss the review petitions by convicts in Nirbhaya case? Is the death penalty now confirmed?

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The Supreme Court on Monday, 9 July upheld the conviction and death sentence for the convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, dismissing the review petitions filed by three of the adult convicts.

The review petitions had been filed against the Supreme Court’s decision in May 2017 where it had confirmed the verdicts of the Delhi High Court and trial court, which had convicted all the accused of murder and gang rape, and sentenced them to death.

The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan, however, found that there were no grounds to interfere with their earlier decision, and that there had been no miscarriage of justice in this case.

The arguments by the convicts, including custodial torture, procedural missteps and irregularities in the evidence amounted to attempts to re-argue the case, according to the judges, since these had already been addressed by the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court in their earlier decisions, which was not allowed in a review petition.

The gruesome gang rape of Jyoti Singh (Nirbhaya) in December 2012 had led to national outrage, and several key amendments to India’s criminal laws on rape. Her death due to the injuries inflicted on her led the accused in the case to be convicted of murder as well, and the imposition of the death sentence by the fast-track trial court in September 2013.

One of the adult accused had committed suicide before the verdict, and the juvenile convict was given the maximum three-year sentence.

The convictions and death sentence were appealed in the Delhi High Court, which upheld the trial court’s decision in March 2014. This was once again appealed to the Supreme Court, where the same bench upheld the conviction and the imposition of the death penalty (considering this case to fit the rarest of rare standard) in May 2017.

With the dismissal of the review petitions, there remain no further options for appeal by the convicts in the courts, though they may still appeal to the president to commute their sentences.

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