A senior lawyer appointed to assist the Supreme Court in the 2012 Nirbhaya fatal gangrape case as “amicus curiae” has urged the judges not to send the four death row convicts to the gallows, saying they are too young to be hanged.
The SC is hearing appeals of Mukesh (24), Pawan (20), Vinay (22) and Akshay (29) challenging the punishment awarded by the trial court and confirmed by the Delhi High Court for a crime that shook the country, stirred global outrage and brought focus on India’s attitudes and treatment of women.
In written submissions, amicus curiae (an impartial adviser) Raju Ramachandran pointed out that the apex court had held in the famous 1980 Bachan Singh case that a balance sheet of “mitigating and aggravating circumstances” have to be drawn before sentencing a person to death.
He contended that the young age of the convicts, the fact that they had no criminal antecedents, the crime being “not pre-meditated” were mitigating factors in their favour.
In 2012, five adult men and a juvenile lured the 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist and her male friend onto a bus in Delhi, where they repeatedly raped the woman and beat both with a metal bar before dumping them on a road. The woman, later dubbed Nirbhaya (meaning fearless), died two weeks later of her injuries. Four of the adults were sentenced to death while the fifth hanged himself in prison.
On August 31, 2013, the juvenile was convicted and sentenced to three years in a reformation home. He was released in December 2015.