Nirbhaya convicts continue to clutch at law for last-minute reprieve

The hanging, scheduled for 5:30 a.m. on March 20, comes after a prolonged court battle spread across many years, and three postponements.

This time, the convicts, even though they have seemingly exhausted all the legal and constitutional remedies available, are leaving no stone unturned for a last-minute reprieve from the finality of the death sentence.

The attempts include endless petitions in courts, to the President of India and even to the International Court of Justice. <br> <br>On Tuesday, barely three days before the hanging, advocate M.L. Sharma approached the Patiala House Court, on behalf of convict Mukesh, seeking quashing of the death penalty awarded to him, claiming the prosecution deliberately concealed certain documentary evidence to falsely implicate him and secure the death sentence.

However, the court dismissed the petition and pulled up the counsel for making “false averments”. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana observed, “I deem it appropriate that the conduct of the counsel (M.L. Sharma) for the convict needs to be brought to the notice of the Bar Council of India for appropriate sensitization exercise.”

On Tuesday, convicts’ counsel A.P. Singh, too, approached the National Human Rights Commission and the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the sentence.

While approaching the apex court with a second curative petition on behalf of convict Pawan claiming “juvenility”, Singh also knocked on the doors of the NHRC, for a stay on the executions. He also demanded compensation for the minor son of another of the accused, Ram Singh, who had died while in custody during the trial.

Earlier, on Monday, four days to the hanging, three of the convicts — Akshay, Pawan and Vinay — approached the International Court of Justice praying for a stay on their execution questioning “life is going short to short, why death?”.

On March 13, a week before the hanging, Vinay Sharma, one of the convicts, had approached the Delhi High Court alleging constitutional irregularities committed by the Delhi government in the recommendation of his mercy plea to the President.

Claiming that the advocates for the convicts are using delaying tactics, victim’s counsel, Seema Kushwaha said, “They have not only used delaying tactics, but they also used their legal and constitutional remedies strategically at a snail’s speed.”

Responding to the allegations, advocate A.P. Singh, who represents convicts Akshay, Pawan and Vinay, said, “This case is a clear example that for truth, we need to fight through the system and the ones in power.”

“All these applications and petitions are our legal remedies and the same are accessed through the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the reliefs, too, are granted through the same channel.”

The Nirbhaya case pertains to the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old girl, called later as Nirbhaya, in the national capital in December 2012. Six people, including the four convicts and a juvenile, were named as accused.

Ram Singh, the sixth accused, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar jail days after the trial began in the case. The juvenile was released in 2015 after spending three years in a correctional home.

–IANS <br>anb/pvn/prs

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