SC reserves verdict on Delhi gangrape convict’s plea against death sentence


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a plea by death row convict Mukesh Singh seeking review of the top court judgment upholding his death sentence in December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape case.

The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan reserved the verdict as advocate Manohar Lal Sharma cited procedural lapses committed by police in the course of the investigation and raised doubts about the DNA report.

Sharma also said that his client was tortured even when the trial was on.

The bench rejected Sharma’s submission that even the top court had doubted the DNA report in the course of the hearing of the appeals against Delhi High Court verdict upholding the death sentence.

“We never said (that). We maintained a strict silence (in the course of the hearing of the appeals). You are not correct in saying that any one of us on the bench doubted the veracity of the DNA report,” Chief Justice Misra said brushing aside his submission.

Senior counsel Sidharth Luthra, appearing for the Delhi government, told the court that all the submissions made before the court do not call for the review of the May 5 verdict as all these submissions have already been considered and rejected by the trial court, the High Court and the Supreme Court.

Rebutting the submission that Mukesh was tortured even when the trial was on, Luthra told the court that during the period of trial, he was in judicial custody and the investigating officer had no access to him.

“If you have a right and you consciously did not choose to exercise it, then you can’t later use it to castigate the trial court, High Court and other forums,” he said.

The top court by its May 5 verdict had upheld the death sentence of Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur.

The four were convicted for raping and assaulting the 23-year-old paramedical student inside a moving bus on December 16, 2012 which led to her death due to internal injuries 13 days later in a Singapore hospital.

The rapists, six in all, pounced on the young woman who had boarded the bus with her boyfriend to go home after seeing a movie.

After committing the crime, they dumped both on the side of a road. Some onlookers alerted police. The sheer brutality of the crime led to nationwide revulsion — and street protests.

A fifth accused, Ram Singh, committed suicide in the Tihar Central Jail here. The sixth, a juvenile, who was accused of ripping apart the woman’s intestines, was sent to a correction home and has been released after serving his probation period.

The court permitted the lawyer for other three death row convicts – Gupta, Sharma and Thakur – to file their plea for the review as it it directed the next hearing on January 29.

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