The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved the order on the challenge to the rejection of mercy petition of Vinay Kumar Sharma, one of the convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case. A bench of Justice R Banumathi heard the plea for which the judgment is slated for Friday at 2 pm. This is the latest in a series of delays in the rapists' hangings, which was at one point within hours of taking place, on Feb 1.
Vinay's lawyer AP Singh argued that the convict was kept in illegal confinement and "illegally tortured" in Tihar Jail. "Vinay Sharma was kept in illegal confinement. He (Vinay) was illegally tortured in Tihar jail prison. I am here only to seek justice, where can I go for justice? That is why I am pleading here before the court for justice. They are not terrorists, they are not habitual offenders. These are the grounds for mercy to these convicts," Singh said.
Singh claimed that there has been a history of physical assaults on Vinay. He said that his client had been suffering from "adverse mental condition and faced immense trauma". The lawyer added, "Vinay should have been treated with proper medical treatment for his poor mental health. He was provided complete medical treatment for his mental illness."
AK Singh then went on to say that "non-application" of mind by President of India is a ground for commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment. "Why the mercy petition is rejected by the President of India so hurriedly? Justice hurried is justice buried. Bifurcation of crime, committed by accused (convict) persons, was not done properly by the investigation team in the case," he held.
Appearing on behalf of the Delhi government, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, "He (convict Vinay Sharma) was not kept in solitary confinement, as argued by advocate AP Singh. There is a limited scope of judicial review, as the President of India had rejected the mercy petition after SC reserved order duly considering and applying his mind."
The SG added that the Home Minister did not dispose off the matter immediately, as the Joint Secretary and Home Secretary discussed the matter in a detailed manner. "The crime committed by the convict, Vinay Kumar Sharma, fell in the rarest of the rare category and did not fall in the category of mercy," Mehta held.
After his mercy plea was rejected by the President on February 1, Vinay filed a challenge in the top court. He sought a commutation of the death penalty to life imprisonment. All the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case are currently lodged in Tihar Jail.
(With ANI inputs)