New Delhi, March 31:
The Supreme Court Monday extended till April 7 the stay on the execution of the death sentence of Mukesh and Pawan Gupta, two of the four convicts in the Dec 16, 2012 gang rape, as it sought a copy of the trial court judgment.
The death sentence of the four convicts was upheld by the Delhi High Court March 13.
The apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice J. Chelameswar at the outset of the hearing said they have gone through the judgment of the high court upholding their conviction and award of death sentence but would like to go though the judgment of the trial court.
The court adjourned the hearing till April 7.
Counsel M.L. Sharma appeared for the two death row convicts Mukesh and Pawan.
A special sitting of the apex court bench of Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh had stayed the execution of the death sentence till March 31.
Both Mukesh and Pawan have contended that they were denied fair trial under the garb of day-to-day trial and under torture they were compelled to accept the prosecution story “which is not only concocted but also contrary to the facts”.
On March 13, the high court bench of Justice Reva Khetrapal and Justice Pratibha Rani had upheld the death sentence of Mukesh and Pawan along with the two other convicts.
“Society’s abhorrence to atrocious crimes perpetrated upon innocent and helpless victims has resulted in the death penalty being retained on the statute book to remind such criminals that human life is very precious and one who dares to take the life of others must lose his own life,” the high court had said.
Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Ram Singh along with a juvenile were accused of gang rape and assault on a 23-year-old paramedical student inside a private bus. The victim and her friend were thrown out of the bus after the crime.
The woman died Dec 29, 2012 at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital.
Mukesh and Pawan have contended that the prosecution’s story that the victim’s end came because of heavy bleeding on account of serious injuries to her intestines was not confirmed by the post-mortem report by the Singapore hospital.
They contended that their trial was not free and fair, and the trial that began Jan 21, 2013, was under “public/political pressure” with “object to hang the petitioners (Mukesh and Pawan) and other accused people”.
Describing the entire trial as “miscarriage of justice”, the petitioners contended that their fundamental right (under article 21 and 22 of the constitution) to have a counsel of their choice was violated as they were represented by a state-appointed advocate.
A trial court held Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur guilty Sep 10, 2013 and they were awarded the death sentence after being charged with murder, attempt to murder, gang rape, kidnapping and unnatural acts.
While the fifth accused, Ram Singh, committed suicide in Delhi’s Tihar jail, the juvenile was sent to a correctional home for three years, the maximum under the Juvenile Justice Act.