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September 20, 2020

SC dismisses Nirbhaya convicts’ curative pleas

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the execution of two of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case while dismissing their curative petitions against their conviction and capital punishment.

The four convicts — Vinay Sharma (26), Mukesh Kumar (32), Akshay Kumar Singh (31) and Pawan Gupta (25) — are to be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail as a Delhi court had issued their death warrants on January 7.

A five-judge bench of the apex court, during in-chamber proceedings, rejected the curative petitions filed by Vinay and Mukesh.

“The applications for oral hearing are rejected. The applications for stay of execution of death sentence are also rejected,” a bench, headed by Justice N V Ramana, said in its order.

“We have gone through the curative petitions and the relevant documents. In our opinion, no case is made out within the parameters indicated in the decision of this court in Rupa Ashok Hurra vs Ashok Hurra & another, reported in 2002 (4) SCC 388.

“Hence, the curative petitions are dismissed,” said the bench, also comprising Justices Arun Mishra, R F Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan.


A curative petition is the last and final legal remedy available to a person.

The five judges were unanimous that there was no merit in the curative petitions filed by the two convicts, Vinay and Mukesh, on January 9.

The other two convicts, Akshay and Pawan have not filed curative petitions yet.

Soon after the top court dismissed the curative pleas of the two convicts, the Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi said: “Today is a big day for me because I have been struggling for seven years, till date. Today is a big day for me but the biggest day would be January 22 when the four would be hanged.”

“I hope that the other remedies available to them would be similarly rejected in future and they will be hanged on January 22. I have fought according to law for seven years and we will get justice legally,” she told a private TV channel.

Advocate A P Singh, who is representing the convicts in the case, said that he would soon file mercy petition before the President on behalf of Vinay and Mukesh.

He said he would also file curative petitions on behalf of Akshay and Pawan in the apex court.

“I have sought details from Tihar Jail about the conduct of these convicts during their stay on the prison from 2012 till 2019. Once I will receive those details, I will file curative petitions for Akshay and Pawan,” Singh said.

He said that last week, he had approached the jail authorities seeking details about conduct of these convicts in the prison but he has not been provided with it yet.

Singh said that he is also planning to approach the Delhi High Court to challenge the trial court’s January 7 order issuing death warrants against these convicts.

He said once he would file mercy petition, he would bring it to notice of the court so that the scheduled execution could be suspended.

A 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012, in a moving bus in south Delhi by six people before being thrown out on the road. She died on December 29 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

The Supreme Court had in 2017 upheld the capital punishment awarded to the four convicts by the Delhi high court and a trial court.

One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail.

A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.

On July 9, 2018, the apex court had dismissed the review pleas filed by three of the convicts in the case, saying no grounds had been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.

On December 18 last year, the top court had dismissed the plea filed by Akshay seeking review of its 2017 judgement upholding his death penalty.

Chronology of events in Nirbhaya case

— Dec 16, 2012: Paramedical student gang raped and brutally assaulted by six men in a private bus and thrown out of the moving vehicle along with her male friend. The victims admitted to Safdarjung Hospital.

— Dec 17: Widespread protests erupt demanding stringent action against the accused.

— Police identify the accused — bus driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh Kumar, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta.

 — Dec 18: Ram Singh and three others arrested.

— Dec 20: Victim’s friend testifies.

— Dec 21: Delinquent juvenile nabbed from Anand Vihar bus terminal in Delhi. Victim’s friend identifies Mukesh as one of the culprits. Police conduct raids in Haryana and Bihar to nab the sixth accused, Akshay Thakur.

— Dec 21-22: Thakur arrested in Aurangabad district of Bihar and brought to Delhi. Victim records statement before the SDM in hospital.

— Dec 23: Protesters defy prohibitory orders, take to the streets. Delhi Police Constable Subhash Tomar, on duty to control protests, rushed to hospital with serious injuries.

— Dec 25: Girl’s condition declared critical. Constable Tomar succumbs to injuries.

— Dec 26: Following a cardiac arrest, victim flown to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital by the government.

— Dec 29: Victim succumbs to injuries and other medical conditions. Police add murder charge in the FIR.

— Jan 2, 2013: Then Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir inaugurates fast track court (FTC) for speedy trial in sexual offence cases.

— Jan 3: Police file charge sheet against five adults accused of murder, gang rape, attempt to murder, kidnapping, unnatural offences and dacoity.

— Jan 5: Court takes cognisance of the charge sheet.

— Jan 7: Court orders in-camera proceedings.

— Jan 17: FTC starts proceedings against the five adult accused.

— Jan 28: Juvenile Justice Board says minority of juvenile accused is proved.

— Feb 2: FTC frames charges against five adult accused.

— Feb 28: JJB frames charges against the minor.

— Mar 11: Ram Singh commits suicide in Tihar Jail.

— Mar 22: Delhi HC allows national media to report trial court’s proceedings.

— Jul 5: Inquiry (trial) in JJB against the juvenile in concludes. JJB reserves verdict for July 11.

— Jul 8: FTC completes recording of testimonies of prosecution witnesses.

— Jul 11: JJB holds minor also guilty of illegally confining and robbing a carpenter on December 16, night before allegedly taking part in the gang rape.

— Delhi high court allows three international news agencies to cover the trial in the case.

— Aug 22: FTC begins hearing final arguments in trial against four adult accused.

— Aug 31: JJB convicts the minor for gang rape and murder and awards three-year term at probation home.

— Sep 3: FTC concludes trial. Reserves verdict.

— Sep 10: Court convicts Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay, Pawan of 13 offences including gang rape, unnatural offence and murder of the girl and attempt to murder her male friend.

— Sep 13: Court awards death penalty to all 4 convicts.

— Sep 23: HC begins hearing the convicts’ death sentence reference sent to it by the trial court.

— Jan 3, 2014: HC reserves verdict on convicts’ appeals.

— Mar 13: HC upholds death penalty to the 4 convicts.

— Mar 15: SC stays execution of 2 convicts, Mukesh and Pawan, after they file appeals. Later, stays execution of other convicts also.

— Apr 15: SC directs police to produce the dying declaration of the victim.

— Feb 3, 2017: SC says it would hear afresh the aspect of awarding death penalty to the convicts.

— Mar 27: SC reserves verdict on their appeals.

— May 5: SC upholds death penalty to four convicts, says the case falls under the category of ‘rarest of rare’ and the offence created “tsunami of shock”.

— Nov 8: Mukesh, one of the four death row convicts in the case, moves SC seeking review of its verdict upholding the capital punishment awarded to him.

— Dec 12: Delhi Police opposes Mukesh’s plea in SC.

— Dec 15: Convicts Vinay Sharma and Pawan Kumar Gupta move SC for review of its verdict.

— May 4, 2018: SC reserves order on review plea by two condemned convicts–Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta.

— Jul 9: SC dismisses review pleas of three convicts.

— Feb, 2019: Victim’s parents move Delhi court for issuance of death warrants of the four convicts

— Dec 10, 2019: Akshay moves plea in SC seeking review of his death penalty.

— Dec 13: Victim’s mother moves SC opposing review plea of convict

 – Dec 18: SC dismisses Akshay’s review plea.

— Delhi govt seeks death warrants for execution of death sentence to the 4 convicts

— Delhi court directs Tihar authorities to issue notice to convicts to avail their remaining legal remedies.

— Dec 19: Delhi HC dismisses plea of Pawan Kumar Gupta claiming he was a juvenile at the time of the offence

 – Jan 6, 2020: Delhi court dismisses complaint filed by Pawan’s father seeking FIR against sole witness

— Jan 7: Delhi court orders 4 convicts to be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail.

— Jan 14: SC rejects curative petition of two of the four death row convicts Vinay Sharma (26) and Mukesh Kumar (32). 

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