While preparations for the execution have started after the date of the hanging of the four convicts of Nirbhaya case has been fixed, the attempt of the convicts has been to delay the execution of the sentence. In yet another attempt to delay the inevitable, convict on death row Vinay Kumar Sharma has filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court.
Vinay Kumar Sharma’s curative petition pleads that the Supreme Court must consider that he was only 19 years old at the time of the incident. Given the youth and socioeconomic background, the convict urges, it should be taken as a factor to reduce the severity of the case.
A curative petition is the last judicial resort for a convict on death row for a redress of a grievance. The Supreme Court established the remedy through its judgment in the Rupa Asok Hurra v Ashok Hurra case. Judges hear curative petitions in-chamber.
The petition said that the Supreme Court had commuted the death sentence in 17 other cases related to rape and murder, including of minors, to life imprisonment. So Vinay should be given relief too!
Lawyer AP Singh said, “We have filed an application in the court for a certified copy of SLP filed on behalf of Pawan Gupta in 2017.” He says that he was not Pawan’s advocate in the Supreme Court. Whereas for another convict Akshay, the lawyer has filed an application for a certified copy of the order dismissing the review petition on behalf of the court.
The Patiala House Court had on Tuesday issued the death warrant after fixing the hanging date for the four convicts at 7 AM on 22 January. However, after the order of the court, the counsel for the convict Singh said that he would file a curative petition in the Supreme Court against it. While issuing the death warrant, the Patiala House Court had given each of the convicts four days time to challenge the order.
Lawyer AP Singh said about the curative petition that five senior-most judges would hear it in the apex court. “There was media, public and political pressure on this case from the very beginning. This case was not investigated with impartiality,” he said.
Options other than curative petition for convicts
The death warrant of the convicts for the gang-rape and murder of Nirbhaya in 2012 was released on Tuesday. But even after the death warrant is issued, there are various legal procedures through which the convicts may try to extend the date of execution.
After the curative petition was filed today by one of the four convicts, Vinay Kumar Sharma, if the top court hears this petition and the verdict is not reviewed within the next 12 days, the date of execution can get extended further.
Before the curative petition, Vinay had sent a plea for clemency to President Ram Nath Kovind through the home ministry, which took the route of the Delhi government seeking its opinion. When the plea passed the MHA, Vinay said his signature was missing in the papers and wanted the plea to be returned to him. Now, if the president does not decide on the clemency petition in the remaining 12 days, the date of hanging gets postponed.
Then, Pawan filed a mercy petition in the Supreme Court, pleading that he was a minor in 2012.
Akshay, too, filed a mercy petition, submitting to the apex court that the verdict against him was a result of social pressure due to the media trial. While both the mercy petitions were dismissed, they delayed the issuing of the death warrant by the Patiala House Court.
The delaying tactic can be noticed in the fact that when Mukesh, Pawan and Vinay had filed review petitions in 2018, Akshay hadn’t.
In a curative petition (a kind of treatment petition) is different in nature from a review petition. Here, the petitioner does not ask for a revision of the verdict. Instead, he asks for a re-examination of certain issues or aspects of the case.