Hard to digest what is happening in Nirbhaya case: Justice Santhosh Hegde
New Delhi, Jan 24: Every loophole in the system has been used by the killers in the Nirbhaya case to delay their execution.
This prompted the Centre to move the Supreme Court for fixing a seven-day deadline for executing the death penalty of condemned prisoners. The plea of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) assumes significance in view of the death row convicts in the sensational Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case of 2012 filing review, curative and mercy petitions, which has delayed their hanging.
Former judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Santhosh Hegde feels that this a mockery of the system. There is a Supreme Court judgment, which says that delaying the punishment itself is a ground for reduction of sentence. This is why we see multiple petitions being filed clearly with an intention of delaying the execution, Justice Hegde tells OneIndia.
He also says that he is surprised that the courts are entertaining the petitions and passing orders, withdrawing orders etc. I am however happy that the Supreme Court has now taken note of it and is looking into such matters.
Justice Hegde asks why should the system be mocked in such a manner. I am a proponent of the death sentence and one of the very few judges who reversed the order of life imprisonment to death.
It was a case in which a family was murdered in a brutal manner at UP over a property dispute. It was a brutal and well-planned murder. The trial court had awarded death sentence, but the High Court reduced it to life. When it came in appeal to the Supreme Court I struck down the High Court order while confirming the sentence awarded by the trial court, Justice Hegde says.
My question is why to talk about the rights of prisoners. Don't the victims and their families also have rights. What is happening is difficult to digest. I understand it must be a torture for those on the death row also to wait for the sentence, but then they are responsible for it, Justice Hegde also says.
The MHA's plea:
The MHA's plea sought a direction from the top court in fixing the deadline for filing of curative pleas after the rejection of review petitions.
It also sought a direction that "if the convict of death sentence wants to file mercy petition, it would be mandatory for a convict of death sentence to do so only within a period of seven days from the date of receipt of death warrant issued by the competent court".
The MHA submitted that the top court should "mandate all the competent courts, state governments, prison authorities in the country to issue death warrant of a convict within seven days of the rejection of his mercy petition and to execute death sentence within seven days thereafter irrespective of the stage of review petition/curative petition/mercy petition of his co-convicts".
The top court, on January 20, had rejected the plea of a death row convict in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case challenging the Delhi High Court order which had dismissed his claim of being a juvenile at the time of offence saying he cannot re-agitate the issue by filing the fresh application.
A Delhi court has recently issued fresh death warrants for February 1 against the four convicts -- Vinay Sharma (26), Akshay Kumar Singh (31), Mukesh Kumar Singh (32) and Pawan (26) -- in the case after their hanging got delayed from January 22 due to pending petitions.
The 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012, in a moving bus in south Delhi by six people before she was thrown out on the road.