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‘Hangings Will Get Postponed Till Eternity’: Defense Lawyer of Nirbhaya Case Convicts

After the court postponed the hanging of the convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case, victim’s mother broke down and said her hopes have been dashed.

New Delhi| Asha Devi, victim’s mother alleged that the Nirbhaya case convicts’ lawyer AP Singh pointed fingers at her and told her that the hangings will get postponed till eternity.

Accusing political parties and the state and central government for the delay in executing the convicts, Asha Devi said none of them is interested in implementing the court’s order. “Why do we have a system where nothing happens to the culprits even after courts have pronounced them guilty and awarded sentences?” she questioned while expressing her disappointment.

AP Singh has a doctorate in criminology and has been accused of exploiting loopholes in the system to save his clients from execution. Criticisms have been passed against him by the Delhi High Court, while the Bar Council has issued notices over his conduct on more than one occasion.

But, undeterred, Singh continues to defend the Nirbhaya rape convicts — Pawan Gupta, Akshay Kumar Singh and Vinay Sharma. The fourth convict, Mukesh Kumar, has a different legal team.

Ajay Prakash Singh, a 46-year-old law graduate from Lucknow University, has been practising in the Supreme Court since 1997. But he grew to fame in 2012 when the Nirbhaya rape and murder case went to trial in the Saket court.

In an interview to CNN-News18, Singh said it was his mother who had asked him to take up the case then.

AP Singh’s defence of the Nirbhaya rape convicts began in the Saket court. He took up the cases of two of the convicts — Akshay and Vinay — but failed to get the duo acquitted of the serious charges. His strategy included assassinating the deceased victim’s character.

“Should I not ask what the girl was doing with the boy so late at night? It is part of the evidence. I wasn’t saying they had a brother-sister relationship or they were out to celebrate rakhi. All I said was that they are friends. Now in their society, boyfriend-girlfriend relation must be laudable, but not in the culture I come from,” Singh said when News18 questioned the need to malign the victim’s character to get his clients acquitted.

AP Singh’s statements had led to massive outrage in 2013. After failing to secure victory in Saket court, Singh had openly attacked the judge in the courtroom. “You have not upheld truth, but lies. This decision has been taken under political pressure and for vote-bank politics,” he had told Additional Sessions on September 13, 2013.

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Outside the court, he lashed out at the media and was panned for his misogynistic remarks.

“If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital sex and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her on fire,” he had said.

Singh has a daughter in college and a son.

Radio City ran a campaign against the lawyer asking him to withdraw from the case keeping in mind the public sentiments, but Singh instead took on another convict, Pawan, as his client as the case went into appeal in higher courts.

The judiciary has expressed on more than one occasion that the defence team is misusing loopholes in the law, but has failed to stop Singh from stretching the lease of life of the death-row prisoners.

AP Singh knows that the execution of convicts in the Nirbhaya case is inevitable, but he is determined to fight on. “This will be part of academic research in future about law, about the system for death row prisoners,” he said.

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