Nirbhaya' An Unending Saga
December 16 dawned and passed on without much ado. The parents of Nirbhaya and others who retained her in their memories paid respects to the departed soul and prayed for her, for it was on that fateful night that the young medical student fought for her dignity and life.
Seven long years have passed and although the Delhi court as well as the Supreme Court had passed the death penalty, the four men convicted in the gangrape and murder of Nirbhaya remained in jail. While one convict Ram Singh had commtted suicide in jail, another convict, a juvenile was sent to a reform home for three years, and released.
The Delhi High Court recalled the adjournment order of Pawan Gupta, one of the four convicted in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case.The court had adjourned his plea to January 24, after the convict approached the court claiming that he had been 'a juvenile' at the time of the offence in December 2012.
Juveniles, like the one earlier given freedom after staying in a reform home, appear to have the benefit of the law, although the crimes they commit are 'adult' enough to shake and outrage the nation. Pawan Gupta alleged that his ossification test had not been conducted by investigation officers, and claimed benefit under the Juvenile Justice Act. The plea was heard by Judge Suresh Kumar Kait.
Earlier, the Supreme Court heard the review petition filed by one of the convicts Akshay Kumar Singh, in which he questioned the dying declaration of the woman, alleging there had been 'pressure to implicate him'. He also argued that Delhi was a 'gas chamber' and the life-span of an individual was short because of the pollution.The apex court told Akshay Singh he had the option of filing a mercy plea before the President of India, and that he had one week's time.
The three-judge panel headed by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde said that review petition was not re-hearing of the appeal over and over again, and added that similar arguments were considered for petitions of the other three convicts - Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma. Those three review petitions had been rejected earlier.
Shortly after the rejection of the review petition and upholding of the death sentence, the lower court refused to put out a death warrant as requested by Nirbhaya's parents. The court asked Tihar Jail to confirm when the convicts would file their mercy plea. Asha Devi, Nirbhaya's mother broke down when she heard the death warrant was postponed.
Moved by her tears, additional sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora consoled her and said that he fully sympathized with her, but he had to follow the law that now required fresh notices to be issued for the execution of the four convicts.The judge then adjourned the matter for January 7, 2020.
The seven year journey has been one of anguish and pain for Nirbhaya's parents. The law has been excruciatingly slow and numerous petitions and adjournments for the convicts have made this vile crime, a long drawn- out case, that has tested the endurance and anguish of the parents, and the patience of the nation.