The Supreme Court today has dismissed Nirbhaya convict Mukesh’s petition, which challenged the rejection of his mercy plea by the President on 17 January, stating that the plea was rejected by President Ram Nath Kovind hurriedly.
A three-judge bench comprising of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna was hearing the petition filed by Mukesh which challenged the rejection of his mercy plea, contending that all the documents were not placed before the President for deciding his mercy plea. He further submitted that he had to undergo sexual abuse and was ill-treated in jail. The senior advocate, Ajana Prakash who appeared for Mukesh, stated that her client was kept in solitary confinement, even before the rejection of his mercy petition.
However, the solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed the submissions asserting that all necessary documents were placed before the President and submitted an affidavit to that effect. Mehta further stated that the allegations that Mukesh was sexually abused and ill-treated in jail, or that he was kept in solitary confinement, are not grounds for granting mercy.
While Mukesh’s counsel argued that that jailor’s recommendations were not forwarded to the President, Mehta contended that “Jailor does not advise the President on whether he deserves mercy or not.”
Hearing the contentions of both sides, the court held that there was no merit in the contention of the convict Mukesh, that not all materials were placed before the President for the decision. The court further held that the alleged torture and ill-treatment can’t be a ground to seek mercy and stated that all the documents were placed and taken into consideration by the President.
Further, the senior Advocates Anjana Prakash, Rebecca John and Vrinda Grover who had appeared for convict Mukesh referred to the apex court’s precedents in Kehar Singh v Union of India and Shatrughan Chauhan case and submitted that even the Presidential power was open to human fallibility.
However, the bench stated that only a limited scope of judicial review was available against the exercise of executive power by the President.
The four convicts Mukesh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Kumar, and Pawan Gupta are scheduled to be hanged on 1 February at 6 AM.