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‘Was sentenced to death but sexually abused in Tihar’: Nirbhaya convict Mukesh to SC

Mukesh Singh’s lawyer argued before the Supreme Court that all records were not sent to the President and therefore his decision to reject mercy was ‘arbitrary and malafide’.

SNS | New Delhi |

The counsel for Nirbhaya convict Mukesh Singh, who is set to be hanged on February 1, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that he was “beaten and sexually assaulted” in Tihar jail.

Senior advocate Anjana Prakash said this to the Supreme Court during the hearing of Singh’s plea challenging the rejection of his mercy request by President Ram Nath Kovind.

Singh’s lawyer argued before the Supreme Court that all records were not sent to the President and therefore his decision to reject mercy was “arbitrary and malafide”.

“I was sexually abused in Tihar jail. I was forced to have sexual intercourse with co-accused 31-year-old Akshay. I was also severely beaten up many times.

“All these statements were given by me but these were not placed before the President,” Prakash claimed in her submission before the court.

A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi was hearing Mukesh’s plea.

Levelling serious accusations against the Tihar Jail authorities, Mukesh’s lawyer added that her 32-year-old client was forced to have sex in front of other prisoners.

Contending that her client has been sentenced to death, Anjana Prakash asked: “Courts only sentenced me to death..was I sentenced to be sexually abused?”

She also contended before the court that several supervening circumstances, which included his illegal solitary confinement, were ignored when the mercy petition was rejected by the President.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, countered Mukesh Singh’s arguments, arguing that it was strange that questions about the sanctity of life are being raised by the convict.

The mercy plea was, once filed by Mukesh Singh, processed quickly and sent with the recommendations in line with the rules. The President was not sitting in appeal over the judicial decision of courts, Mehta said.

Mukesh Singh, one of the death-row convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case, had on Monday moved the court seeking urgent hearing on his plea against the dismissal of his mercy petition by President Ram Nath Kovind.

Following the hearing, the bench reserved its verdict to be pronounced on Wednesday.

Mukesh Singh, 32, submitted the plea last week. His mercy plea was dismissed by the President on January 17.

On this, a bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and comprising Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant had observed that the petition of the death-row convicts should be listed on “top priority”.

Directing the counsel of Mukesh to approach the Supreme Court Registry for urgent listing of his plea against rejection of mercy petition by the President, the bench headed by the CJI said: “If somebody is going to be hanged on February 1, then nothing can be more urgent than this.”

“Execution case will be given top priority,” the bench said.

Later in the day, the mentioning officer considered the urgency of Mukesh Singh’s plea and listed it before a three-judge bench comprising Justices R Bhanumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna.

Delhi’s Patiala House Court on January 17 issued a fresh death warrant against the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya rape and murder case, who will now be executed at 6 am on February 1.

According to a January 7 order, the convicts — Vinay Sharma (26), Mukesh Kumar (32), Akshay Thakur Singh (31) and Pawan Gupta (25) — who were found guilty in the rape and murder of a Delhi medical student, were to be hanged at 7 am on January 22.

The 23-year-old victim, who came to be known as Nirbhaya, was brutally gangraped and tortured on December 16, 2012, inside a running bus in south Delhi by six persons, which later led to her death. All the six accused were arrested and charged with sexual assault and murder.

Four of the convicts were sentenced to death by a trial court in September 2013, and the verdict was confirmed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014 and upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2017, which also dismissed their review petitions.

The fifth accused was a minor and appeared before a juvenile justice court, while a sixth accused committed suicide in Tihar Jail.