New Delhi: Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde on Tuesday recused himself from hearing the review petition of Akshay Kumar Singh — accused in 2012 Delhi gang rape case — seeking reconsideration of the Supreme Court’s order upholding his death sentence along with three other accused.
Chief Justice Bobde, heading a three-judge bench that includes Justice R. Banumathi and Justice Ashok Bhushan, said he will constitute a bench on Wednesday at 10.30 am and the new bench will take up the review plea filed by Kumar against capital punishment at 2 pm. He recused himself saying that his nephew, Arjun Bobde, had once appeared on behalf of the victim.
At the outset of the hearing, he asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta as to who was appearing for the victim’s family and expressed reservation in hearing the review petition as someone close to him had appeared for the victim’s mother in the case.
Though Mr Mehta said that the matter was between the state, the accused and the court, and there was no issue in CJI Bobde being on the bench, the CJI recused himself from hearing the review petition.
Justice A.S. Bopanna will replace him at the hearing today.
Akshay Kumar Singh, who was awarded death sentence along with three others in the 2012 Nirbhaya brutal gangrape that led to her death and caused national outrage, has moved the Supreme Court seeking reconsideration of its verdict upholding his death sentence.
The top court had on May 5, 2017, upheld the death sentence of Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar, holding that the aggravating circumstances against them far outweighed the mitigating circumstances cited in their favour.
In his plea seeking reconsideration, Akshay Singh has contended that he is from a poor and respected family and its only caretaker. Making a class distinction, he has said that the extreme penalty of death sentence is hardly ever imposed on a rich or affluent person.
Pointing out that “our criminal justice system cannot guarantee the consistent application of legal standards and rule of law”, Akshay Singh asks in his review petition, “How can we allow judiciary to decided who will live or die?”
Referring to several countries where death penalty has been abolished, Akshay Singh has said that “capital punishment cannot be applied with certainty, consistency or fairness and it is morally indefensible” and thus it should be abolished in India as well.
Pointing to the reformation he is undergoing in jail since his incarceration, Akshay Singh, who is above 30 years of age, says, “Why death penalty, when age is reducing? It is mentioned in our Vedas, Puranas and Upanishad that in the age of Satyayug, people lived for thousands of years. Even in Triteya Yug, a man used to live for thousands of years. In the age of Dwapar Yug, they used to live for hundreds of years. But now it is Kalayuga. In this yug the age of humans has been reduced too much.
It is now 50 to 60 years and rarely we listen of a person who is of 100 year of age.”
He has also pointed flaws in the evidence that has been cited by the prosecution against him....