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Nirbhaya convicts: SC says organ donation should be voluntary


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a PIL by former Bombay High Court judge Michael Saldanha, seeking directions for donation of organs by four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, saying “death is the saddest part and the organ donation has to be voluntary.”

A bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi rejecting the petition asked the petitioner to “have human approach”.

Saldana in the petition contended that the apex court may pass directions to the Tihar jail authorities, where four death row convicts are currently lodged, to give them an option to offer their bodies for medical research and also donate their organs, which could help in saving lives of critically ill people.

The top court said, “The execution of a person is the saddest part for the family. You (petitioner) want their body to cut into pieces… have some human approach….organ donation has to be voluntary”.

The petitioner also urged the apex court to consider the desirability of making it as a condition in cases where convicts are on death row. All four death row convicts have exhausted all the legal remedies available for death row convicts.

Earlier today, the top court rejected a curative petition by Pawan Gupta, one of the four convicts, a day before the four convicts are scheduled to be executed. Gupta, 25, was the lone convict in the case who had not exhausted his legal options of a curative petition.

Gupta has also filed a mercy plea before the President.

Akshay Singh has not yet challenged the rejection of his mercy petition.

A death warrant was issued against Kumar along with three other condemned prisoners for the execution of death sentence on March 3. Advocate A.P. Singh, representing Kumar, said he was a juvenile during the time of the commission of the offence, and the death penalty should not awarded to him.

Singh also sought a stay on the execution of the black warrant on the hanging issued by the trial court.

He is the only convict who is yet to exhaust all legal remedies — the curative petition, which is the final legal remedy available, and the filing the mercy petition before the President.

Speaking to media persons, Singh had said there have been many errors in the previous judgements and he expected through this curative petition those errors are amended.

“Our main contention is that at the time of the commission of the offence, Pawan was attending a musical programme”, said Singh.

The top court had earlier dismissed separate pleas filed by Mukesh and Vinay challenging the decision of the President to reject their mercy petitions. Akshay is yet to challenge the rejection of his mercy petition.

A fresh date of execution of death warrant was issued by the trial court on February 17. The trial court fixed the execution on March 3 at 6 am for the four convicts — Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Singh (31) — in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case.

The President has rejected the mercy petitions of three convicts — Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay.

On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern was gang raped and brutally murdered in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died after a fortnight.

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