Nirbhaya Death Penalty Appeal: ‘Delhi Air Pollution is Killing Us Anyway’
Akshay Thakur, one of the Nirbhaya rape case convicts, brought an absolutely ridiculous plea before the Supreme Court. Is this a symptom of a failing Indian legal system?
Sometimes, the best source of absurd news is the Supreme Court.
In recent years, judges have issued some truly crazy comments from the Apex Court, but none of them tops the statement made yesterday by Nirbhaya Rape and Murder convict, Akshay Singh Thakur.
Appearing before the Court with a review petition against his death penalty sentence, Thakur argued that he was incorrectly convicted in the case, and discusses how capital punishment has been abolished in various countries.
Moving on to the crowning glory of the petition - Thakur argued that life was short… so why rely on the death penalty, when Delhi air would kill us all anyway?
The petition states, "... it is important to pertain here that Air Quality of Delhi NCR and metro city is burst and like a gas chamber... the water of Delhi NCR and metro city is also full of poison... Everyone is aware of what is happening in Delhi NCR in regard water and air.”
It then goes on to ask, "Life is short to short, then why death penalty? [sic]"
This isn’t the only bizarre argument made in the petition. It also cities ancient Indian texts such as the Vedas, Puranas and Upanishads to say that during 'Satyug' (the first of the four ages mentioned in Hindu mythology), people used to live for "thousand years”. Now, however, it states that we live in Kalyug, the last age in Hindu mythology, where the average lifespan has reduced to 50-60 years.
There’s some relevant background information here: Akshay Singh Thakur was the only convict to not have previously filed a review plea against his conviction in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case. It is only now that he is fighting his conviction, days before the death sentence is expected to be carried out.
Akshay Singh Thakur was convicted in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case along with Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma.
All four were awarded the death penalty and the punishment was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Earlier, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma filed review petitions asking the Supreme Court to reconsider their convictions. The petitions were rejected.
Now why does this matter?
An 11th hour plea resting on the legal claims of Kalyug, and Delhi pollution says a lot about the quality of legal representation granted to Akshay Singh Thakur.
When legal aid is mandated by the court, underprivileged people have to rely on the best of what they get; and not the best defence available as promised and envisioned by the law.
This plea and review petition is a farce. Only an utter failure of legal representation could lead to this.
What we see here is a man who has given up, possibly with good reason. But we need not concern ourselves with the state of mind of the convict. What we need to ask ourselves is this - in offering such a flawed defence team, have we failed to grant him the due process he deserves?