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Hope for Justice: Supreme Court to Deliver Verdict in Nirbhaya Case Today

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Friday deliver the verdict in the appeals filed by the four convicts who have been sentenced to death in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case which shook the conscience of the nation.

The crime in which a 23-year-old lost her life to brutal assault by six persons had also led to the drafting on the 2013 Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, which later was known as the Nirbhaya Act prescribing death sentence for someone who commits rape, leading to the death of the victim or causes her to be in a persistent vegetative state.

Today’s verdict is going to be authored by Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Bhanumathi after a series of hearing which concluded on March 27. The hearings had gone on for almost a year on regular basis. If the bench decides to reject the pleas of the convicts, then it would confirm their death sentence.

In 2013, a trial court had ruled that all five except the juvenile (who was short of 18 months when he committed the offence). The verdict was upheld by the Delhi High Court.

In March 2013, Ram Singh, another accused was found hanging in Tihar Jail. Thus the remaining four, Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh, had appealed the apex court to consider their sentence.

The case had also witnessed submissions from the two court-appointed Amicus Curiaes, Senior Advocates Raju Ramachandran and Sanjay Hegde, who had submitted their findings to assist the court in arriving at a conclusion.

In his 7-page report, Ramachandran argued that the trial court denied a fair hearing to the accused and that the accused were treated like a “homogenous class of condemned criminals” without being given any “individualised sentencing process”.

The report also mentions that since a fair trial was denied to the accused, the death sentence violated Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution. It further stated that how the courts failed to strike a proper balance between the aggravating and mitigating factors.

Even Hegde raised serious doubts on the merits of the evidence submitted by the prosecution based on which four convicts were sentenced to death. The amicus curiae also raised questions on Nirbhaya’s dying declaration and said that there were severe discrepancies in the statement.

However, on the last day of the hearing when the verdict was reserved, Siddharth Luthra, appearing for the prosecution had pleaded the court that the four death row convicts do not deserve any leniency and only capital punishment would do justice to the diabolical nature of the crime committed.

First Published: May 5, 2017, 7:43 AM IST