SC questions issuance of death warrants by trial courts
   Date :21-Feb-2020

SC questions issuance of
AMID public outcry over the delay in execution of death penalty given to four convicts in Nirbhaya case, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the death warrant issued by a Gujarat court in the execution of a 22-year-old man convicted in the rape-and-murder of a three-year-old child in Surat in 2018. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde and comprising Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant stayed the death warrant as it was issued before the limitation period.
The Chief Justice observed that court judgements should be strictly complied with while issuing death warrants. The observation from the top court gains significance against the backdrop of the Nirbhaya case where lawyers for convicts contend they should be given a chance to exhaust all their legal remedies. The top court queried the state counsel as to how an order of this kind could be passed despite a reported order of the Supreme Court on a similar issue in the Amroha murder case. According to the law, a challenge against the death sentence can be filed within 60 days.
However, in this case, the death warrant was issued merely 33 days after the High Court’s order. The convict’s lawyer argued before the court that the lower court judge, who issued the death warrant, hurriedly issued direction without giving the convict the mandatory 60 days to file appeal in the top court after the High Court confirmed the death sentence. The Chief Justice said, “How could such death warrant be issued when there is a judgment of this court in Shabnam vs State of UP?” This judgement says, death row convicts have to be given sufficient time to avail of legal remedies, and unless they exhaust them, execution of the death penalty cannot take place.
The top court directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Gujarat, to take instructions in the matter and stayed the death warrant. The Gujarat High Court on December 27, 2019, upheld the conviction of the accused. Anil Yadav was convicted in the criminal case by an Additional Sessions Court in July 2019. The victim had gone missing from her home. Her corpse was recovered in a plastic bag. Yadav, who lived in the neighbourhood, initially joined the search for the child, but later disappeared. The police arrested him from Bihar. Yadav was convicted on the deposition of over 30 witnesses, besides medical and circumstantial evidence.
Nirbhaya case convict bangs head against wall
ONE of the four death-row convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case, Vinay Sharma, injured himself by banging his head against a wall of his cell in Tihar Jail, officials said on Thursday. The incident happened in jail number 3 on Sunday afternoon. He got some minor injuries and was treated inside the prison premises, they said. According to prison officials, Vinay had briefly stopped eating. “He is irritable in nature and acts different from the other three convicts.
His nature is different from the other three,” they said. “Sharma got hurt inside his cell after he banged his head against a wall on Sunday afternoon. While he was at it, security personnel saw him, stooped him immediately and called the doctors,” a senior jail official said. A Delhi court on Monday ordered that Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) -- the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case be hanged on at 6 am on March 3. The court was informed that Vinay was on hunger strike in Tihar jail but he later broke the strike. It directed the jail superintendent to take appropriate care of Vinay as per law.
Vinay’s lawyer had told the court that the convict was assaulted in jail and has head injuries, adding that he was suffering from acute mental illness and hence the death sentence cannot be carried out. The court rejected the ground of “mental illness”, saying that the issues was raised before the apex court and it rejected the plea on the basis of the report submitted by the doctors, who said the convict was “psychologically well adjusted” and the “general condition of the petitioner is stable”.
According to sources, with the date of execution approaching, the mental health of the four convicts are being regularly checked by doctors. They all are being kept in jail number 3 in separate cells and they are being monitored round the clock, the senior jail official said. Death warrants were earlier issued on January 7 and the execution was later deferred twice -- on January 17 and January 31.