SC rejects Nirbhaya convict’s plea against President’s decision

Vinay Sharma had challenged the rejection of his mercy plea


The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by Nirbhaya case convict Vinay Sharma challenging the rejection of his mercy plea by the President.

A three-judge Bench led by Justice R. Banumathi, in a 26-page judgment, found no merit in Sharma’s contention that the mercy plea was rejected because of non-application of mind.

Justice Banumathi, who wrote the judgment, rejected all the grounds raised by Sharma, including non-furnishing of relevant official records and documents concerning the mercy petition in response to an RTI request filed by the condemned man’s lawyers.

Sharma had pleaded mental illness caused by “inhuman torture” behind bars. The petition had said he had caused self-harm on many occasions. It was submitted that his medical records and the status report on the mental health were placed before the President.

However, the apex court consulted the documents and concluded that the “petitioner is psychologically well adjusted”. It referred to medical experts’ view that “he was provided with regular therapy sessions by specialised therapists and the general condition of the petitioner is stable”.

The court also trashed allegations of bias caused to the case of the petitioner because of the statements made by ministers in the Delhi government and the Centre, which “led to pre-judging the outcome of the petitioner’s mercy petition even before it was placed before the President for consideration”.

“The public statements said to have been made by the Ministers cannot be said to have any bearing on the ‘aid and advice’ tendered by the Council of Ministers of Delhi to the Lieutenant Governor or by Council of Ministers in the Central Government to the President,” the court held.

Meanwhile, the Bench partially heard an appeal made by the Centre and the NCT of Delhi for permission to hang the four Nirbhaya convicts separately. Both the Centre and the NCT of Delhi have challenged the conclusion arrived at by the Delhi High Court judgment on February 5 that the Delhi Prison Rules mandates the four convicts be executed at the same time.

The hearing, however, was abruptly stopped when Justice Banumathi, who was unwell, complained of uneasiness and fainted in the courtroom. She was escorted out of the court by security personnel to receive urgent medical attention.