Two of the four convicts facing death for the December 16 gangrape of a paramedical student on Monday filed their appeals before Delhi High Court challenging the trial court's conviction and sentence against them.
Filing a joint appeal through counsel AP Singh, convicts Vinay Sharma (20) and Akshay Thakur (28) sought the trial court's conviction and sentencing orders on September 10 and 13, respectively, to be set aside.
The trial court had last month awarded the death penalty to the above duo along with Mukesh (26) and Pawan Gupta (19) for raping the 23-year-old victim on a moving bus in south Delhi on the night of December 16, 2012.
"The trial court's conviction and sentence orders are bad in law. The trial judge did not pay any heed to the facts of the case and applied the law contrary to the facts," the counsel said.
Claiming that Vinay was 17-years-old and should be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act, the appeal said, "The Investigating Officer (IO) in the case should be directed to bring record of date of birth of appellant 1 (Vinay) from his native village and conduct the ossification test of the appellant."
Seeking modification in the trial court order along with acquittal of the convict, the appeal said, "Vinay was a juvenile as his age was 17 years and eight months... The court had turned down his plea for ossification test. He is pursuing his BA 2nd year from jail. The appellant is also a gym trainer and was financially supporting his family." Saying that due to their poor financial status, Vinay had to earn to support his family.
Stating that he also used to donate blood, the appeal claimed he was not a criminal. "The person who can donate blood to save another's life can never take the life of anyone," it said.
Similarly, the appeal said about Akshay that his wife was illiterate and he had two children while his aged parents were suffering from various ailments.
The convicts also cited such grounds as that the FIR was not a substantive piece of evidence and one could not be convicted on its basis.
According to the convicts, the trial judge relied on the statements of the prosecution witnesses (PW) who are not reliable and the court should reject the statement of PW 1, the male friend of the victim.
"PW1 and the deceased were close friends... which would naturally have a tendency to exaggerate or add facts which might not have happened," the plea said.
Their appeal is likely to be listed tomorrow along with the trial court's reference for confirmation of the death penalty against the convicts before a bench of Justices Reva Khetrapal and Pratibha Rani.
While awarding capital punishment to the convicts, the trial court had said the case fell in the rarest of rare category as the crime was committed against the "defenceless" girl in a "beastly" and "hair-raising" manner and referred the case to high court for confirmation of the sentence.
The trial court has to refer each death penalty case to the high court for confirmation of the punishment.
Prime accused Ram Singh (34) was found dead in his cell in Tihar Jail in March and proceedings against him were subsequently abated.
On August 31, the juvenile accused in the case was convicted and sentenced to a maximum of three years in a reformation home.
On December 16 last year, the paramedical student was gangraped on a moving bus in south Delhi after the convicts lured her and her male friend, who was also assaulted, on board the vehicle, which was found to be plying illegally.
The victim's 28-year-old friend suffered fractures in his limbs. The girl succumbed to her injuries on December 29 at a Singapore hospital.