In the year 2013 an amendment was made to the Supreme Court rules which stated that it would be only a three judge bench which would hear cases relating to death sentences.
On August 25 2014 when the Nirbhaya case came up for hearing before a bench comprising Justices Ranjana Prakassh Desai and N V Ramana they were informed about the amendment to the Supreme Court rules and the matter was adjourned.
It is seven months now and till date there is no news about the Nirbhaya case from the Supreme Court of India.
Why the delay?
There are no officials reasons listed by the Supreme Court regarding the delay in taking up the case. It appears as though a Bench comprising three judges has not been constituted as yet and unless and until this is done the case will not move any further.
Senior advocates at the Supreme Court tell OneIndia that is is the prerogative of the court to fix a date of hearing. They would also decide on the Bench which would hear the case. One cannot question the court or the registry about the delay, an advocate at the Supreme Court said on condition of anonymity.
Case was fast tracked initially
It is quite surprising that the case before the Supreme Court has not been heard for almost 7 months now. After the filing of the charge sheet, the trial commenced before the lower court which completed the process in 8 months.
The matter then went up to the Delhi High Court for confirmation of sentence. The Delhi High Court completed proceedings in less than two months following which the accused who were handed out the death penalty approached the Supreme Court on March 15 2014.
In the first date of hearing the Supreme Court stayed the sentences awarded to all the accused persons. After that there has really not been any progress in the case. While the Supreme Court needs to decide on a three judge bench for cases relating to death sentences, the normal practise is that it does not take cases of death sentences out of turn.
There are several other cases of death sentences that are pending before the Supreme Court which would be taken up before the Nirbhaya case comes up. The court feels that taking one case out of turn would cause prejudice to the convicts in the other case.
Legal experts say that the Supreme Court cannot take up a matter just because it is in the news. It would hear out the rest of the cases relating to death sentence before taking up this one. That has been the normal practise.
Some one needs to make a mention before the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court Bar Association is meeting on March 10 to pass a resolution on the Nirbhaya case. The association would urge the Supreme Court to urgently take up the case and dispose it off. The association feels that there is a message that needs to be sent in this case and hence a speedy disposal of the matter would go a long way.
Recently the president of the Association Dushyanth Dave brought the matter to the notice of the Supreme Court. He urged the court to hear the matter and also mentioned that the case had not been taken up for a long time now.
However the Supreme Court assured that it would be looked into. However the registry of the court even today has nothing pertaining to the case. A three member judge bench has not yet been constituted to hear the case.