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Supreme Court reserves verdict on Nirbhaya convict’s plea for Wednesday

Nirbhaya rape case convict Mukesh Kumar Singh

In last-ditch bid, convict Mukesh Kumar argues President was not given all the relevant material to decide on his mercy petition

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday reserved its verdict on a plea by one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the president.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice R Banumathi said it will pronounce the verdict on convict Mukesh Kumar Singh’s plea on Wednesday. The death row convicts in the case are scheduled to be hanged on February 1.

President Ram Nath Kovind had rejected the mercy petition of Mukesh on January 17.

The Supreme Court questioned the convict as to how he can allege “nonapplication of mind” by the president in rejecting his mercy petition.

The bench asked senior advocate Anjana Prakash, appearing for Mukesh Kumar Singh, as to how they can argue that all the facts of the case were not placed before the Ppresident when he dealt with the mercy plea.

“How can you say that these facts were not placed before his excellency the President? How can you say that there was non-application of mind by the President,” the bench, also comprising justices Ashok Bhsuhan and A S Bopanna, asked the lawyer.

Solicitor-general Tushar Mehta told the bench that all the records, exhibits and the judgment in the case were placed before the president.

Singh’s lawyers argued that there were procedural lapses that led to the dismissal of his mercy plea by the President. They said that certain supervening circumstances, including solitary confinement and procedural lapses have been ignored while considering his mercy plea.

Pressing for carrying out the death penalty, solicitor-general Tushar Mehta sought dismissal of Mukesh’s plea and said being ill-treated in prison cannot be grounds for mercy to one who has committed a heinous crime.

Mehta told the bench that Mukesh Kumar Singh was not kept in solitary confinement as alleged.

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