Asha Devi, the mother of a 23-year-old physiotherapist who was raped and fatally injured in 2012 in what came to be known as the Nirbhaya case, has lashed out at senior advocate Indira Jaising’s advice to forgive her daughter’s rapists who are on death row.
“Who is Indira Jaising to give me such a suggestion? The whole country wants the convicts to be executed. Can’t believe how Indira Jaising even dared to suggest this. I have met her many times over the years in the Supreme Court and not once did she ask about my well-being. Today she is speaking for convicts. Such people earn their livelihood by supporting rapists. Hence, rape incidents don’t stop,” Asha Devi, who has been campaigning for the convicts to be hanged, said.
Jaising has made the appeal to Asha Devi on Twitter and cited the example of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi who had said that she does not want death penalty for her husband and former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s assassin Nalini.
“While I fully identify with the pain of Asha Devi I urge her to follow the example of Sonia Gandhi who forgave Nalini and said she didn’t not want the death penalty for her. We are with you but against the death penalty,” Jaising had tweeted.
Asha Devi’s daughter, given the name ‘Nirbhaya’ or fearless by the media, was brutally gang-raped and tortured on December 16, 2012. She succumbed to her injuries a few days later at a hospital in Singapore. The barbarity of the crime shook the nation, leading to country-wide protests and a change in rape laws.
All the six accused were arrested and charged with sexual assault and murder. One of the accused was a minor and appeared before a juvenile justice court. He was released in 2015 and his identity kept confidential in accordance with the law. Another accused committed suicide in Tihar Jail.
Four of the convicts – Akshay Singh, Pawan Gupta, Mukesh and Vinay Sharma – were sentenced to death by a trial court in September 2013, and the verdict was confirmed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014 and upheld in May 2017 by the Supreme Court, which also dismissed their review petitions.
The curative petitions of Mukesh and Vinay have already been dismissed by the Supreme Court, the last judicial recourse to challenge the death penalty awarded to them. Akshay and Pawan have not filed any curative petitions yet. Also, the two men and Vinay have the option of filing mercy petitions before the President. Mukesh’s mercy plea has already been rejected by the President.
Pawan has also moved the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court verdict rejecting his juvenility claim at the time of offence.
A Delhi court has issued fresh death warrants for the four for February 1 but they are unlikely to be executed on the scheduled date since prison rules mandate a buffer period of 14 days between the day of the rejection of the mercy petition and the day of execution.