New Delhi: Clearing the way for execution of Vinay Sharma, one of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed his plea against the rejection of his mercy petition by the President.

The top court refused to accept Sharma's contention that the President did not apply his mind while rejecting the mercy plea and it was done in a "mala fide" manner.

"When the highest constitutional authority, upon perusal of the note and the various documents placed along with mercy petition, has taken a decision to reject the mercy petition, it cannot be contended that the highest constitutional authority had not applied its mind to the documents," it said.

A bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna said, "In the result, we do not find any ground for exercise of judicial review of the order of the President of India rejecting the petitioner's mercy petition and this writ petition is liable to be dismissed. The writ petition is dismissed accordingly."

The apex court had earlier dismissed a similar plea filed by another death row convict in the case, Mukesh Kumar Singh (32).

The mercy petition by the third convict -- Akshay Kumar (31) -- has also been rejected, but he is yet to challenge the rejection.

The fourth convict Pawan Gupta (25) is yet to exhaust his legal remedies such as filing curative petition -- the last legal remedy available to person and the mercy plea.

A trial court had on January 31 stayed "till further orders" execution of the four convicts on the ground that they are yet to avail of all their legal remedies.

The Delhi High Court has said that all the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case have to hanged together and not separately.

The top court Friday dealt with various grounds raised by Sharma (26) through his advocate A P Singh including that all relevant records were not placed before the President by the authorities.

The bench said the Delhi government had forwarded Sharma's mercy petition to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on January 30 along with the necessary documents which included recommendation of NCT of Delhi, copies of judgments, case records, latest medical report of the prisoner, present status of pending petition and others.

"Before placing the note file before the President of India, the MHA had placed the matter before the Union home minister, who applied his mind and by a speaking order, recommended for rejection of the mercy petition," it said.

The bench further said, "By perusing the note put up before the President of India, we have seen that all the documents enclosed along with mercy petition of the petitioner and the submissions made by him in the mercy petition were taken into consideration".

The top court also dealt with mental illness claim made by Sharma that due to torture and ill-treatment in jail, he had to seek psychiatric treatment and these records were not placed before the President.

It said that by perusal of the file produced before the court, it is seen that the medical report of Sharma along with the treatment and his latest medical report dated January 30, 2020 was placed before the concerned authorities which in turn, was placed before the President.

"In the medical status report, Dr. Akash Narade has referred to the details of the treatment of the petitioner and certified that the petitioner is psychologically well adjusted and he was

being provided with regular therapy sessions by specialized therapists and the general condition of the petitioner is stable" the bench said.

It said that the alleged suffering of the petitioner (Sharma) in the prison cannot be a ground for judicial review of the executive order passed under Article 72 of the Constitution of India rejecting his mercy petition.

The bench relied upon the affidavit filed by Director General (Prison), Tihar Jail which stated that for security reasons, Sharma was placed in one ward having multiple single rooms and barracks.

The bench also rejected the ground of bias raised by Sharma that ministers of Delhi government and Union government had led to pre-judging the outcome of mercy petition.

"The public statements said to have been made by the Ministers, cannot be said to have any bearing on the aid and advice tendered by the council of ministers of Delhi to the Lieutenant Governor or by council of ministers in the Central Government to the President," it said.

The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as 'Nirbhaya' (fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.

Six people including the four convicts, Ram Singh and a juvenile -- were named as accused.

The trial of the five adult men began in a special fast-track court in March 2013 and four were sentenced to death by the court on September 13, 2013. The trial court decision was upheld by the High Court and the Supreme Court.

Ram Singh, the prime accused, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in Tihar jail days after the trial began. The juvenile, who was said to be the most brutal of the attackers, was put in a correctional home for three years.

The juvenile was released in 2015 and sent to an undisclosed location amid concerns over a threat to his life. He, when released, was 20 years old.

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New Delhi: French aerospace major Dassault Aviation and European missile maker MBDA are yet to fulfil their offset obligations of offering high technology to India under the Rafale aircraft deal, the Comptroller and Auditor General said in a report released on Wednesday.

The Dassault Aviation is the manufacturer of the Rafale jets while the MBDA supplied the missile systems for the aircraft.

India had signed an inter-governmental agreement with France in September 2016 to procure 36 Rafale jets at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore, and the offset obligations were part of the contract.

In its report tabled in Parliament, the national auditor said the Dassault Aviation and the MBDA proposed in September 2015 to discharge 30 per cent of their offset obligations by offering high technology to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), but the two firms are yet to do it.

The DRDO was looking for French technnology for indigenous development of an engine for the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas.

The CAG also painted a grim picture of efficacy of India's offset policy saying it did not find a single case of foreign vendors transferring high technology to the Indian industry, adding defence sector ranked 62nd out of 63 sectors receiving FDI.

"In the offset contract relating to 36 Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), the vendors M/s Dassault Aviation and M/s MBDA initially proposed to discharge 30 per cent of their offset obligation by offering high technology to DRDO," the CAG said.

The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29.

"DRDO wanted to obtain technical assistance for the indigenous development of engine (Kaveri) for the Light Combat Aircraft. Till date the vendor has not confirmed the transfer of this technology," according to a press release issued by CAG.

Under India's offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30 per cent of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.

The offset norms are applicable to all capital purchases above Rs 300 crore made through imports. The offset obligations can be made through Foreign Direct Investment, free transfer of technology to Indian firms and purchase of products manufactured by Indian firms.

The auditor said though the vendors failed to keep up their offset commitments, there was no effective means of penalise them.

"Non fulfillment of offset obligations by the vendor especially when the contract period of the main procurement is over, is a direct benefit to the vendor," it said.

The CAG said as the offset policy has not yielded the desired result, the defence ministry needs to review the policy and its implementation.

It needs to identify the constraints faced by the foreign suppliers as well as the Indian industry in leveraging the offsets, and find solutions to overcome these constraints," it said.

The CAG said 48 offset contracts were signed with foreign vendors from 2005 to March 2018 with a total value of Rs 66,427 crore, and Rs 19,223 crore worth of offsets should have been discharged by the vendors by December 2018.

But the amount discharged by them was only Rs 11,396 crore, which was only 59 per cent of the commitment.



"Further, only 48 per cent (Rs. 5,457 crore) of these offset claims submitted by the vendors were accepted by the Ministry. The rest were largely rejected as they were not compliant to the contractual conditions and the Defence Procurement Procedure."

It said the remaining offset commitments of about Rs 55,000 crore would be due to be completed by 2024.

"The rate at which the foreign vendors have been fulfilling their offset commitments was about Rs 1,300 crore per year. Given this situation, fulfilling the commitment of Rs 55,000 crore by the vendors in the next six years remains a major challenge," the CAG said.

The auditor found that of the total value of offsets, only 3.5 per cent was contracted to be discharged through FDI with Indian Offsets Partners or IOPs, adding it did not find a single case where the foreign vendor had transferred high technology to the Indian industry.

"The defence sector is ranked 62nd out of the 63 sectors in India in terms of FDI. Similarly, there was hardly any equipment supplied 'in kind' to the Indian industry by the foreign vendor. Thus, the objectives of the offset policy remain largely unachieved," the report said.

The CAG said it undertook the performance audit of the offset policy after a decade of its roll out to assess the extent to which its objectives were met.