The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the death sentence of Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur, the two remaining convicts in the December 16, 2012, gang rape case, till further orders the execution of death penalty.
A Bench of justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and N V Ramana said since the death sentence of other convicts have already been suspended by this court, the order had to be passed.
It stayed the execution of Vinay Sharma (21) and Akshay Thakur (29), who were convicted along with other two – Mukesh (27) and Pawan Gupta (20) – and whose death sentence has already been stayed. The accused had moved the apex court seeking a stay on their execution and reversal of the Delhi High Court verdict upholding their conviction and the punishment.
The court proceedings also witnessed some confusion as the bench queried whether it could hear the plea in the light of observation made by Chief Justice R M Lodha that the cases of death convicts be heard by not less than three-judge bench.
The bench called for Supreme Court registrar who said no such notification has been issued so far in this regard. The bench then went ahead with the hearing and passed the stay order.
The Delhi High Court had on March 13 this year upheld their conviction and award of death penalty by terming the offence as “extremely fiendish” and “unparallelled in the history of criminal jurisprudence” and said the “exemplary punishment” was the need of the hour.
It had also said if this case was not “the rarest of rare cases” then “there is likely to be none”.
Besides seeking setting aside of the High Court verdict, Vinay and Akshay, in their appeal, have sought a stay on their execution as an interim relief.
The petition has said the judgement be set aside as there was no “substance or material piece of evidence” and there were contradictions in the depositions of the victim and her friend, who had accompanied her in the bus, about the offence and the offenders.