Nirbhaya gangrape case: The Supreme Court of India has finally given its verdict in the Nirbhaya case. The apex court on Friday upheld the capital punishment given by the High Court to the 4 convicts- Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh in the December 16, 2012, case. The 3 judge bench headed by Justices Dipak Misra, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan pronounced the verdict. Justice Misra said that the criminal conspiracy by the convicts had been established by using modern methods of investigation. He added that it was beyond doubt that the dying declaration of Nirbhaya was the truth while pronouncing that the CCTV footage was correct. However, the defence lawyer A P Singh, said that the death penalty was ‘not Gandhian’ and said that once the copy of the judgement was available, he would study it and file a review petition.
Now, while the Supreme Court has given a death penalty in the case, there are provisions in the law that could offer the convicts a chance to get relief from capital punishment. Here’s how:
1) Review Petition
According to the supremecourtofindia.nic.in, a review petition could be filed to challenge any judgement of the Supreme Court by pointing out any error in the review petition. However, the courts generally do not change or vary the decision, without a strong case built on a big error. According to the Article 137 of the Indian constitution, all the subjects to provisions of any rule or law under the Article 145 of the SC, possess the capability to review any judgement made by it. According to the Supreme Court Rules 1966, such a petition could be filed within 30 days of the date of judgement.
2) Curative Petition
In the case of dismissal of a review petition, the petitioner can go ahead and file a curative petition. According to the supremecourtofindia.nic.in, the Supreme Court might consider it depending on the gravity of circumstances. In the case of a Curative Petition, the petitioner has to specifically mention the grounds on which the review petition had been filed earlier and the exact reasons it was dismissed. The petition has to be certified by a senior advocate and then delivered to the judges who had delivered the said judgement or the three senior most judges. No time limit has been given for the filing of a Curative petition.
3) Presidential Mercy Petition:
The Presidential Mercy Petition is the last hope of the convicts who face the death penalty. The Article 72 of the Constitution of India gives the President of India, the power to pardon, commute, suspend or remit a death sentence given by the Supreme Court. However, it must be noted that the Ministry of Home Affairs first examines all the mercy pleas and advise the President accordingly. No fixed time limit is set by the President or the Home Affairs Ministry to decide on a mercy application. A mercy plea can be sent directly to the President of India or the Governor of the concerned state who then refers the issue to Minister of Home Affairs.
With all these three options available to the Nirbhaya rapists, and their lawyers deeming the Supreme Court’s decision unjust, it his highly unlikely that we have seen the end of the four-and-a-half-year-old case.