On Monday, a 3-judge Supreme Court bench comprising Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna dismissed the juvenility plea of Pawan Gupta, one of the convicts in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case. Gupta had moved the SC against the Delhi High Court order which reaffirmed that Gupta was not a juvenile when he committed the ghastly crime on December 16, 2012. The convict’s review petition has already been dismissed. He along with the three other rapists are scheduled to hang till death on February 1, 2020, at 6 am.
In the apex court, AP Singh- the counsel for the accused claimed that there was a big conspiracy by the state to conceal the juvenility of Gupta. He produced the school leaving certificate which showed his date of birth as October 8, 1996. However, Justice Bhushan pointed out that the certificate was obtained in February 2017, after Gupta was convicted. Meanwhile, Justice Banumathi contended that the same argument had already been raised in the SC, HC and the trial court.
At this juncture, Singh alleged that the trial court had committed miscarriage of justice by pronouncing the order on juvenility after hearing only the prosecutor. He also observed that the judgment was passed in a hurry due to a “media trial”. On the other hand, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta noted that the current plea was based on the same evidence.
Moreover, he read out paragraphs of the SC review judgment which had concluded that Gupta was not a juvenile at the time of committing the crime. He stated that it would be a travesty of justice if the juvenility issue is raised again after being rejected at all forums. However, the counsel for the accused insisted that there was new evidence in this regard. Thereafter, the bench reserved the order.
A 23-year-old paramedic student Nirbhaya was gang-raped inside a running bus by six persons on December 16, 2012, in Delhi. The victim was severely assaulted and thrown out on the road along with her male friend and succumbed to injuries a few days later. Out of the six convicts, one committed suicide in prison, while another, a juvenile, served maximum punishment of three years in a reform home and was set free in 2015. The remaining four rapists were convicted and handed the death penalty by a trial court in 2013, confirmed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014. The Supreme Court upheld the Delhi High Court's verdict in 2017.