A death row convict in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case today claimed in the Supreme Court that the President had not considered the "mental stability" he suffered due to torture in jail while rejecting his mercy petition. The centre denied the assertion, saying he was "fit and of sound mind".
This was part of Vinay Sharma's last-ditch effort to escape the death sentence handed to him and three other convicts for the brutal sexual assault on a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern on December 16, 2012. In his submission, the convict said that all the relevant records -- including one pertaining to his mental illness -- had not been tabled before the President. The centre, however, produced a medical report dated February 12 which showed that he was not suffering from any mental illness.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna reserved its order on Vinay Sharma's plea challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President, saying that it will pronounce the verdict at 2 pm on Friday.
The top court also rejected the request of AP Singh, the counsel of Vinay Sharma, seeking the perusal of the original file of recommendation made by Delhi Home Minister Satyendra Jain and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal for the rejection of his mercy petition. Mr Singh says their signatures had not been obtained for the same, a claim rejected by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
Vinay Sharma's counsel also claimed that all "relevant materials" pertaining to his client had not been placed before the President, who rejected the mercy petition within 48 hours. Mr Singh argued that the history of physical assaults on Vinay Sharma and his medical records establishes the fact that he was taken for psychiatric treatment on several occasions.
Tushar Mehta countered this by saying that Vinay Sharma's case falls in the "rarest of rare category" deserving of death sentence, and cited prison records to claim that he was not kept in solitary confinement. The Supreme Court had earlier dismissed a plea filed by Mukesh Kumar Singh, another death row convict in the case, challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President.
A trial court had stayed "until further orders" the execution of four convicts -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) -- on January 31.
While Akshay Kumar's mercy plea has also been rejected, Pawan Gupta is yet to file his. The latter also has the option of putting in a curative petition, the last and final legal remedy available to a death row convict.
While a fifth convict committed suicide by hanging himself in Tihar Jail days after the trial in the case first began, a juvenile offender was released after serving time in a correctional home for three years.
(With inputs from PTI)