One of four Indian men on death row over the infamous 2012 Delhi gang-rape and murder appealed against his sentence citing pollution.
Akshay Singh Thakur was one of a group of men who gang-raped a 23-year-old woman on a bus in India’s capital late at night in December seven years ago.
Her case and death, 12 days later from extensive internal injuries — sparked national protests and international horror, and became synonymous with India’s high rates of sexual violence against women.
Filed through his lawyer, the now 31-year-old said in his review petition to the Supreme Court that the air quality in New Delhi was like a “gas chamber” and its water “full of poison”.
“Everyone is aware of what is happening in Delhi-NCR (national capital region) with regard to air and water. Life is going to be short, then why death penalty?” the petition said.
According to India Today, this argument is prefaced by another bizarre argument which 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”.
The petition, as it questions the practice of awarding death penalty, then says that we are now in Kalyug (the last age in Hindu mythology) where the average lifespan has reduced to 50-60 years.
Akshay is the final defendant out of four given the death sentence in the case to file a review petition before India’s top court. It too was expected to be rejected.
Media reports this week said that the men could be hanged before the end of the year, and possibly on December 16, the anniversary of the attack.
Some reports said that Tihar prison, where they are incarcerated, has held a dummy execution to test the gallows and that special ropes are being brought from elsewhere though a Tihar prison official said that he had no knowledge of any such preparations.
Every winter Delhi is shrouded for months in a toxic smog that experts say is shortening the lives of the mega city’s 20 million inhabitants.
The pollution appeal comes shortly after another Indian woman, Dr Priyanka Reddy was gang-raped and murdered last month, sparking protests and calls for reform of the country’s notoriously slow legal system.