The Supreme Court today rejected the petition of Pawan Kumar Gupta, convicted in the Nirbhaya case, that had submitted that he was a minor at the time of the incident of gang-rape on 16 December 2012. The apex court said there was nothing new in the petition or arguments of the defence lawyer. The court ruled that Pawan was an adult at the time when he had committed the crime of rape.
Earlier, during the hearing of the petition, which Pawan had filed after Delhi High Court rejected his claim of juvenility, his lawyer AP Singh submitted to the court a school-leaving certificate from Gayatri Bal Samskarashala, Tanda, in Ambedkarnagar district, according to which Pawan’s age was 17 years 1 month 27 days. Pawan obtained this certificate after conviction in the year 2017.
When the court raised questions in this regard, the counsel for the convict argued, when the need for the proof of his client’s age arose during the trial, it was ordered from the school.
Pawan’s lawyer accused the police of concealing the truth about Pawan’s age under a big conspiracy. He argued that these documents confirmed his client’s age. Convict Pawan said he used to participate in the programs held in Tihar Jail. He dismissed the jail administration’s claim that Pawan did not participate in cultural programmes.
The Supreme Court asked Pawan’s counsel why he did not mention this when the review petition was being heard. “You cannot furnish a new document every time,” the court told Singh. The court said that there was nothing new in these documents. The magistrate court, Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court had rejected all these documents and arguments, the apex court said.
“We don’t find any ground to entertain this petition. Once the issue of juvenility is examined and rejected by courts it can’t be raised again,” the Supreme Court said.
The lower court had on 10 January 2013 dismissed the claim that Pawan was a minor at the time of the incident.
Following the comment of the court, Singh argued that Pawan had no lawyer at the time. He said that there was a media trial going on and emotional pressure at that time. The court told them not to beat about the bush and rather argue on a single point. “How many times will we hear the same things? You have raised it already many times,” the court said.
Singh said that the trial court had dismissed his client’s submission promptly without due deliberations. “The petition was dismissed on the same day without hearing us out,” Singh said.
Singh cited examples of many other old verdicts as Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued on behalf of Delhi Police. The S-G said Pawan’s claim was considered at each and every judicial forum and it would be a “travesty of justice” if the convict was allowed to raise the claim of juvenility repeatedly.
Mehta said the convict was 19 years old at the time and that a certified copy of his birth certificate, as well as school certificate, was taken on record by every judicial forum. The police said Pawan’s parents had confirmed his age and did not dispute that he was above 18 when Nirbhaya was gang-raped, tortured and killed in 2012.
The rejection of Pawan’s petition brings the convicts on death row one step closer to execution. The Patiala House Court has already issued a death warrant for hanging all the four convicts at 6 AM on 1 February.