SC stays death sentence of two Dec 16 gang rape convicts (Third Lead)

New Delhi, March 15: The Supreme Court Saturday stayed the execution of the death sentence of Mukesh and Pawan Gupta, two of the four convicts in the Dec 16, 2012 gang rape, whose death sentences was upheld by the Delhi High Court March 13.

A special bench of Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai and Justice Shiva Kirti Singh stayed the execution of the death sentence till March 31.

The court directed the registry to communicate its stay order forthwith.

It also directed the registry to place the matter before Chief Justice P. Sathasivam so that it can be listed before an appropriate bench.

“We have heard Manohar Lal Sharma, learned counsel appearing for the petitioners – Mukesh and Pawan Kumar Gupta – in respect of the prayer for stay of execution of death sentence. We stay the execution of death sentence of the two accused till March 31″, the court said.

“We direct the registry to place these matters before the chief justice for appropriate orders regarding listing the matters before the appropriate bench.”

The court further said: “We further direct the registry to communicate this order to the prison authorities forthwith.”

Earlier Saturday, Mukesh and Pawan Kumar Gupta moved the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi High Court verdict upholding their death sentence.

Both Mukesh and Pawan 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”.

A petition – filed by lawyer M.L. Sharma on their behalf – contended that the high court did not even consider their plea.

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 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 court 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 victim died of grave intestinal injuries Dec 29, 2012 at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

Mukesh and Pawan 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.

Contending that their trial was not free and fair, the two convicts have said the trial that started 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 the four 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 juvenile was sent to an observation home, Ram Singh committed suicide in Delhi’s Tihar jail.

IANS