New Delhi, Jan 14: The curative petitions of Vinay Sharma and Mukesh, who were sentenced to death in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, was on Tuesday rejected by a five-judge Supreme Court Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana.
In a three-page order, the Bench concluded, after an in chamber consideration that began about 1.45 p.m., that there was no merit in their pleas to spare them from the gallows.
“We have gone through the curative petitions and relevant documents. In our opinion, no case is made out within the parameters indicated in the decision of this Court in Rupa Ashok Hurra versus Ashok Hurra. Hence, the curative petitions are dismissed,” the court held.
Curative is a rare remedy devised by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in its judgment in the Rupa Ashok Hurra case in 2002. A party can take only two limited grounds in a curative petition - one, he was not heard by the court before the adverse judgment was passed, and two, the judge was biased. A curative plea, which follows the dismissal of review petition, is the last legal avenue open for convicts in the Supreme Court. Sharma was the first among the four convicts to file a curative.
The Bench also rejected their pleas to stay the execution of their death sentence and for oral hearing in open court.
Besides Justice Ramana, the Bench comprised Arun Mishra, Rohinton Nariman, R. Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan.
Curative petitions were filed in the Supreme Court by both convicts on January 9. The petitions had come just days after a Delhi sessions court schedulled the execution of all the four convicts in Tihar jail on January 22.
Sharma and Mukesh, in separate curative petitions, argued that there was a “sea change” in the death penalty jurisprudence since their convictions. Carrying out the death sentence on such changed circumstances would be a “gross miscarriage of justice”.
In his plea, Sharma said the Court had commuted the death penalty in several rape and murder cases since 2017, when it first confirmed the death penalty to the Nirbhaya convicts.
“fter the pronouncement of judgment in 2017, there have been as many as 17 cases involving rape and murder in which various three-judge Benches of the Supreme Court have commuted the sentence of death,” the petition contended.
The Supreme Court recently dismissed a review petition filed by Akshay Singh, another of the four four condemned men, to review its May 5, 2017 judgment confirming the death penalty. It also refused his plea to grant him three weeks' time to file a mercy petition before the President of India.
A Bench led by Justice R. Banumathi had said it was open for the Nirbhaya case convicts to avail whatever time the law prescribes for the purpose of filing a mercy plea.
Akshay (33), Mukesh (30), Pawan Gupta (23) and Sharma (24) had brutally gang-raped a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012. She died of her injuries a few days later.
The case shocked the nation and led to the tightening of anti-rape laws. Rape, especially gang rape, is now a capital crime.
One of the accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar jail. A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board. He was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.
Nirbhaya case: SC throws out curative pleas of 2 death row convicts