New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a plea by one of the Nirbhaya case death row convicts, Mukesh, challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President on the ground that the entire material relating to the case was not placed before President Ram Nath Kovind.
The order will be pronounced by the court on Wednesday.
Reserving the order, a bench comprising Justice R. Banumathi, Justice Ashok Bhushan, and Justice A.S. Bopanna observed that they have limited jurisdiction in going into the rejection of the mercy petition by the President and they would check if all the relevant documents relating to the 2012 gangrape case were placed before him.
Senior counsel Anjana Prakash questioned the rejection of the mercy petition by the President in the absence of the entire record of the case being given to him.
Prez given limited documents
Senior counsel Anjana Prakash told the court that the Tihar jail authorities enclosed only his medical report, trial court judgment and the details of the punishment along with the mercy petition.
Ms Prakash contended that there was non-application of mind by the President.
Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, disputed that only limited records relating to the case were sent to the President for deciding the mercy petition by Mukesh.
He handed over to the court two files — one containing notings and the other correspondences relating to the case.
A curative petition by Mukesh and Vinay Sharma was rejected on January 14, 2020.
Contending that “justice hurried is justice buried,” Ms Prakash told the court that Mukesh was subjected to indignities during his incarceration in Tihar jail, including alleged forcible sex with Akshay Kumar and assaults on him requiring his treatment at hospitals.
The court was told that he was put in solitary confinement — a ground for the communisation of the death sentence — and the details of the same were not put before the President while deciding the mercy petition.
Mr Mehta said that the alleged indignities, claimed to have been heaped on Mukesh, could not be a ground for commutation of death sentence. He disputed that Mukesh was kept in solitary confinement.
Mr Mehta said that solitary confinement in itself was not a ground for the commutation of death sentence and that any delay in deciding the mercy petition is dehumanising to the death row convict.
He described it as a mandate of Article 21 of the Constitution.
The solicitor general also told the court that it was not a case that Mukesh was confined to a room with no ventilation and cut-off from the rest of the world as happens in case of solitary confinement.
However, Ms Prakash, referring to an earlier judgment to the top court, said that solitary confinement cumulatively with other factors can be a ground for commutation....