A rarest of rare case of rape, murder and brutality, the Nirbhaya judgement case took a surprising turn on Wednesday when the defence lawyers, on behalf of the convicts, pleaded in front of the judge for mercy, that too by quoting Mahatma Gandhi's and Gautam Buddha's ideologies.
VK Anand, counsel for Mukesh said,"Daya karo maharaj (show some leniency). I pray for leniency on behalf of the convicts and their poor parents."
He further said, "We are a country that lives by the principles of Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha. Gandhi said he did not believe in sending one to the gallows."
Defence counsel quoted Mahatma Gandhi and said life can only be taken by God.
Taking the advantage of the dead convict Ram Singh, who had been the prime accused in the case, the defence lawyer pinned all blame on him saying that the rest of the four convicts (the fifth one being remanded in a juvenile rehab center) were innocent and did not have any prior criminal records.
Pitching the innocence of Mukesh, he pleaded the court to show some leniency as he was not part of the main crime and was just driving the bus. He said,"punish him for what he has done. Don't punish him for what he has not done. He was only driving the bus."
Lawyer of Vinay and Akshay, AP Singh invoked Gandhi by saying: "God gives life and he alone can take it, not man-made courts." He went ahead and requested the court to give the convicts just one chance to reform. "Afterall, justice and punishment are meant to reform lives, not end them," he said trying to play the emotional chords. In fact, he 'justified' the act of brutality by citing the social ethos surrounding the convicts, who belong to rural areas and are uneducated and "sexually starved".
He also argued that Vinay was a good student and had applied for a job with the air force and therefore "He did not commit the crime. Death is irreversible; purpose of justice is reform and reconciliation."
Defence counsel Vivek Sharma, representing Pawan Gupta, made a stronger statement saying that his client did not deserve the death penalty.
"This was only one stroke of murder. The court can grant him the death penalty only if it feels that the convicts have a chronic hunger for murder. The convicts are not blood-thirsty tigers. These people are not professional criminals. They are innocent. They don't have a criminal record. Some of them were studying. They deserve one chance at reformation," he said.
Drawing strings from the previous trials of politicians involved in rape and murder, the defence lawyers also showed reason why the convicts can also be granted mercy. One of the lawyers said,"Batla House accused got life; was let off due to politics, so why death for these rape accused now? Why parliamentarians accused in decoity, rape and murder are not tried by fast-track courts?"
A fast-track court convicted Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh on Tuesday for the brutal rape and murder of a 23 year old paramedic student in New Delhi on 16 December 2012. One of the six convicts allegedly committed suicide in Tihar jail, while one is serving a juvenile verdict.
The quantum of sentence for the four accused has been reserved by the court till Friday, Sept 13.