One of the four convicts in the December 16, 2012 gang rape-and-murder case moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking review of its 2017 judgment awarding them death penalty, with his lawyer questioning the capital punishment at a time life is getting 'short' due to rising pollution.
Akshya Kumar Singh, 33, who had not filed a review plea along with the three other convicts earlier, moved the apex court with the petition through his lawyer A P Singh and fervently pleaded against the award of death penalty in the case.
The review plea referred to the health risks due to the rising pollution level in Delhi and said, "Life is going short to short, then why death penalty."
A 23-year-old paramedic student was gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a running bus in south Delhi by six persons and severely assaulted before being thrown out on the road. She succumbed to injuries on December 29 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
'The state must not simply execute people to prove that it is attacking terror or violence against women. It must persistently work towards systematic reforms to bring about change. Executions only kill the criminal, not the crime...,' the review plea said.
The top court had in July 9 last year dismissed the review pleas by Mukesh, 30, Pawan Gupta, 23, and Vinay Sharma, 24, in the case, saying no grounds have been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.
One of the accused in the case, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail in New Delhi.
A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board. He was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.
The apex court in its 2017 verdict had upheld the capital punishment awarded to them by the Delhi high court and the trial court in the case.
Akshya, presently lodged in a jail in New Delhi, has said in his plea that the death penalty entails 'cold blooded killing' and it does not provide convicts the chance to reform.
The plea referred to the moral reasons for abolition of the death penalty and said that there was no evidence to show that such a punishment has got a deterrent value.
It also referred to the observations of former Chief Justice of India P N Bhagwati that the convicts, hailing from poor background, are more likely to be sent to the gallows.
'If our criminal justice system cannot guarantee the consistent application of legal standards and the rule of law, then, how can we allow judiciary to decide as to who should live or die,' it said.
The plea, strangely, talked about the health risks such as rising pollution level in Delhi and said, 'Life is going short to short, then why death penalty.'
The plea also talked about the life span of human beings in present age and said that there was no reason to continue with the death penalty.
'Why death penalty? When age is reducing, it is mentioned in our 'Ved', 'Purans' and 'Upanishads' that in the age of 'Satyug' people lived the life of thousand years. In the age of 'Dwapar' they used to live for hundreds of years.
'But now it is 'Kalyug', in this era, age of human beings have reduced much. It has now come to 50-60 years, and rarely we listen of a person who is in the age of 100 years.
'Very few people reach up to the age of 80-90 years. This is almost a very true analysis. When we look around us then we come to the conclusion, more or less this analysis is true when a person faces the stark realities of life and passes through the adverse situation, then he is no better that a dead body...'
So far as legal remedies are concerned, the three convicts, except Akshya, can still file curative pleas in the top court against their conviction and death penalty in the case.
After exhausting the remedy of filing curative pleas, the convicts can still move the President with their mercy pleas and in case of their (mercy pleas) dismissal, the authorities can seek issuance of death warrant from a local court to execute them.