December 2012 Delhi gangrape-murder case: Tripping justice

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Published: February 17, 2020 2:30:49 AM

The SC must ensure that upholding the rights of the convicts of 2012 Delhi gangrape-murder doesn't erode faith in due process

Fundamental rights, Death row, December 2012 gang-rape, Delhi, Murder, Crime, Constitution of India, Justice, Capital punishment, Akshay Thakur, Supreme Court, Death sentence, New Delhi, Vinay Sharma, Mercy petition, President, Pawan Gupta, Delhi High Court, Juvenile, Review petitions, Curative petition, Indian justice systemThe progress of due process in the matter seems to be eroding trust in due process itself.

The courts, no doubt, are right—the fundamental rights of even the death-row convicts in the December 2012 Delhi gangrape-murder case are protected by the Constitution, and due process can’t be wished away. But, the fact is also that the convicts are clearly using the law to trip justice, trying to delay their hanging for as long as possible.

Akshay Thakur, one of the death-row four, in his review petition to the Supreme Court last year—the SC had upheld death for the four in 2017—had absurdly asked for his death sentence to be commuted since, thanks to the poor quality of Delhi’s air and water, his “life is going to be short anyway”.
While Vinay Sharma has challenged the rejection of his mercy petition to the President in the SC, Pawan Gupta had filed a plea in the High Court claiming that he was a juvenile at the time of the crime. Review petitions, curative petitions, petitions against rejection of mercy petitions… no wonder, the parents of the victim feel betrayed by the system after a seven-year long fight for justice.
A cardinal principle of the Indian justice system is “justice should not only be done, but also be seen to be done”. The progress of due process in the matter seems to be eroding trust in due process itself. Perhaps, the apex court should now define what would constitute a complete exhaustion of possible legal remedies, and set a deadline for the same.

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