A Supreme Court judge fainted in the courtroom on Friday while she was dictating an order on the centre's petition seeking separate executions for the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, news agency PTI reported.
Justice R Banumathi regained consciousness even as court staffers rushed to her aid, PTI said, adding that she was subsequently taken to her chamber in a wheelchair. The three-judge bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and Ashok Bhushan, said that the order will be passed in-chamber.
In a related development, the same bench dismissed the plea of Vinay Sharma -- one of the four death row convicts in the case -- challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by President Ram Nath Kovind. "We do not find any ground for exercise of judicial review of the order of the President of India rejecting the petitioner's mercy petition and this writ petition is liable to be dismissed," it said.
Vinay Sharma had claimed in the Supreme Court that President Ram Nath Kovind did not consider 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 the convict's last-ditch effort to escape the death sentence handed to him and three others for the brutal sexual assault on a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern on December 16, 2012.
The top court had earlier 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 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.
(With inputs from PTI)