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In a review petition, it is not for the Court to re-appreciate the evidence and reach a different co

AKSHAY KUMAR SINGH v. STATE (NCT OF DELHI) ON  18th DECEMBER 2019, REVIEW PETITION (CRIMINAL) D NO.44603 OF 2019 IN CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS.609-610 OF 2017.

The review petition filed by the co-accused was dismissed by the SC under the bench comprising of Justice R. BANUMATHI, Justice ASHOK BHUSHAN and Justice A. S. BOPANNA as the grounds raised in the review petition is the as same the arguments raised in the earlier review petition.

The prosecutrix was raped by the accused Ram Singh and petitioner Akshay Kumar Singh @ Thakur. They also committed an unnatural offence and inserted an iron rod in the private parts of the prosecutrix. They even harmed her friend and took away all their belongings. After twelve days she died in spite of being treated.

The Trial Court convicted the petitioner and other accused under various sections of IPC and they were convicted for the Death Penalty and the sentence of imprisonment. The High Court also established upon the decisions of the Trial Court. The petitioner has filed a criminal appeal in the SC in 2017 and it was dismissed by referring to the case, Mukesh and another v. State (NCT of Delhi) and others.

The question of law is when the court has the jurisdiction to allow the review petition?

whether the petitioner has made out any ground indicating error apparent on the face of the record warranting review of SC judgment?

Mr. A.P. Singh, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner pleaded for the review of the judgment by showing various grounds on which review petition can be allowed but the learned Solicitor General Mr. Tushar Mehta appearing for NCT of Delhi made a contention that the evidence and the plea made by the petitioner side are used for longer-term was considered by all three courts.

“The learned Solicitor General also submitted that the very same grounds were raised in the review petition by the co-accused and the same was dismissed by this Court vide judgments in Mukesh v. State (NCT of Delhi)”

The SC also answered for the question whether the  petitioner has made out any ground indicating error apparent that the grounds raised are identical

As per the Supreme Court Rules, review in the criminal proceedings is permissible only on the ground of error apparent on the face of the record. The court referred to the case, Vikram Singh alias Vicky Walia and Another v. State of Punjab and Another, it is inferred that the court can use his judicial review power only when there are omission and mistake made in the previous pronouncement.

The Supreme court said that in a review petition the petitioner can not reproduce the same evidence and the content the same defene plea used before to get a supporting order.

The SC found it as unfortunate when Delhi Pollution was said as the ground by the petitioner in the matter as serious as the case. Further grounds were that the death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights and that it violates the right to life; it also goes against the principle of non-violence; the lack of professional skills of the investigating agency and the need for an unbiased investigation. The death penalty has been abolished in the UK and several other Latin American countries and the Australian States.

The court held that the above contentions are more general and are grounds which are pleaded again and again.

So far as the dying declaration is concerned, the petitioner contended that the investigation is unreliable, the test of identification is doubtful these contentions were also rejected. The court supported the dying declaration because it was found that there were multiple dying declarations that raised the confidence of the court.

“The materials or the news emerging in the media and press as also the news channels cannot be taken note of in arriving at a conclusion on the culpability of the accused or to test the credibility of the witness. Such events cannot be urged as a ground for review.”

The counsel for petitioner referred to the book titled “Black Warrant” written by Sunil Gupta, a former law officer of Central Jail. The court held that the opinion of the law minister was not supported by the material so it cannot be a ground for allowing review petition.

It is no longer res integra that scope of review is limited and review cannot be entertained except in cases of error apparent on the face of the record. Article 137 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court to review any judgment pronounced or made, subject, of course, to the provisions of any law made by the Parliament or any rule made under Article 145 of the Constitution of India.

The contention of the petitioner in respect of the plea of alibi was turned down by the SC as it is normal for the family members to twist the incident so that they can save the petitioner.

The SC held that,

“We do not find any error apparent on the face of the record in consideration of evidence and rejection of the plea of alibi.”

The petitioner contended about the usage of the iron rod as there is no injury to the uterus, the court rejected this plea as the said findings thereon supported by the opinion of the medical expert do not suffer from any error.

The petitioner was given a chance to prove that it a rarest rare cases by filing an affidavit in which they had failed and so those contentions were also rejected.

“This Court held that the case is falling within “the rarest of rare cases”. We do not find that these findings suffer from any error apparent on the face of the record, the death penalty is confirmed.”

Dismissal of the review petitions filed by the co-accused also delivered the same ground which was raised earlier

“We do not find any error apparent on the face of the record in the appreciation of evidence or the findings of the judgment”. The review petition claimed by the petitioner is dismissed.

– Manusri Ramakrishna

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