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Nirbhaya case: Court appoints lawyer for death row convict

6092
By PTI Updated: Feb 13, 2020 11:34 pm
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Nirbhaya rape and murder case victim’s mother and father at the Patiala House Court, in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)

New Delhi, Feb. 13 (PTI): A Delhi court Thursday appointed an advocate to represent Pawan Gupta, one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case after he refused to take a lawyer offered by DLSA as legal aid.

Additional Session Judge Dharmender Rana then adjourned for Monday the hearing on the pleas seeking fresh warrants against the convicts.

The court had on Wednesday offered a counsel to Gupta and expressed displeasure over the delay in the process from his side.

Gupta said he had removed his earlier lawyer and would need time to engage a new one.

The District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) had provided Gupta’s father with a list of its empanelled advocates to choose from.

Tihar Jail authorities informed the court that he refused to take a lawyer offered by DLSA.

Gupta is the only one among the four convicts who has not yet filed a curative petition — the last legal remedy available to a person, which is decided in-chamber. He also has the option of filing a mercy plea.

The court was hearing applications moved by Nirbhaya’s parents and the Delhi government, seeking fresh death warrants for the four convicts after the Supreme Court granted liberty to the authorities to approach the trial court for issuance of fresh date for the execution of these convicts.

The trial court had Wednesday expressed anguish over the delay in hearing of the applications moved by Nirbhaya’s parents and the Delhi government.

The court had directed DLSA to provide Pawan’s father with a list of its empanelled advocates to chose from, which was followed.

It had said that a condemned convict is entitled to legal aid till his last breath.

“‘Fiat justitia ruat caelum (let the justice be done though the heavens fall)’. This court is of the considered opinion that any condemned convict is entitled to legal aid till his last breath. Granting the prayer made in the applications under consideration without hearing the counsel for convict would render further hearings in the instant matter an ornamental and superfluous exercise,” the judge had said.

The date of execution, first fixed for January 22 in Tihar jail, was postponed for 6 am on February 1 by a January 17 court order. The trial court later, on January 31 stayed, “till further orders” the execution of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, who are lodged in Tihar Jail.

The trial of the five adult men began in a special fast-track court in March 2013.

Nirbhaya parents, convicts’ kin protest outside court for and against hanging

Nirbhaya’s parents Thursday protested outside a trial court premises here against the delay in the hanging of the four death row convicts for gang rape and murder of their daughter, while the condemned prisoners’ kin protested against the death sentence.

The protests were held after the court adjourned for Monday the hearing on the pleas seeking fresh warrants against the convicts.

“We too have some rights. The legal system is only thinking about the rights of the convicts,” Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi said, while joining a protest being held by women rights activist Yogita Bhayana outside the court’s premises.

The family members of the convicts, on the hand, held placards stating that “five people cannot be hanged for the death of one person”.

Devi had also sat on ‘dharna’ outside the Patiala House courts premises on Wednesday demanding the execution of the convicts without any further delay.

She further said, “There is no appeal pending in any court in the country… I appeal to the Supreme Court to issue the death warrant as this court (trial) is in no mood to issue one. We are losing hope”.

While raising slogans for the hanging of the four convicts — Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) — Devi said: “We are waiting for justice. I assure rape victims that they will also get justice. But today I myself have lost hope.”

Bhayana said, “The people of this country are losing hope with every passing day. When will convicts be hanged?”

Convict Pawan Gupta’s sister demanded that her brother should not be hanged.

“He is innocent. Five deaths for one death is not justified. We want the death penalty to be abolished. There should be no politics on this case,” she said.

6092
By PTI Updated: Feb 13, 2020 11:34:04 pm