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Dec 16 gangrape case: Sinful to hang convicts when law lets them live, says court

Citing the Delhi High Court’s February 5 order, which permitted the convicts, in the interest of justice, to exercise their legal remedies within one week of the order, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana said, “It is criminally sinful to execute the condemned convicts when the law permits them to live”.

Written by Pritam Pal Singh | New Delhi |
Updated: February 8, 2020 4:21:16 am
The trial court on January 31, had stayed “till further orders”, execution of the four convicts in the case who are lodged in Tihar jail. (File)

A Delhi court Friday dismissed a fresh plea by the Delhi government and Tihar jail authorities seeking to fix a date of execution of the death warrants issued against the four Death Row convicts in the December 16, 2012, gangrape-murder case.

Citing the Delhi High Court’s February 5 order, which permitted the convicts, in the interest of justice, to exercise their legal remedies within one week of the order, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana said, “It is criminally sinful to execute the condemned convicts when the law permits them to live”.

“I concur with the amicus for the convict Mukesh that the date of execution of death warrant cannot be fixed merely on the basis of surmises and conjectures…Applications at hand are premature and thus deserve to be dismissed. However, the State is at liberty to move appropriate application as and when required,” the judge said.

Last week, the trial court had stayed “till further orders” the execution of the four convicts, Mukesh Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31), who are in Tihar Jail.

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It had postponed the execution of the death warrants, saying the country cannot afford to discriminate against a death row convict in pursuit of legal remedies.

The Ministry of Home Affairs appealed to the High Court against the trial court’s January 31 order which was turned down saying the “death warrants of all the convicts be executed together but not separately”.

The Centre rushed to the Supreme Court challenging the Delhi HC order rejecting its plea to execute the convicts separately and upholding the stay on their execution. It will hear their plea next week.

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Meanwhile, the Delhi government and Tihar approached the Delhi court praying that a fresh date should be given to them for execution of the convicts.

The counsel for the state argued that the mercy of convict Akshay was also dismissed by the President of India on February 5 and as “on date there is no legal impediment to fix the date for execution of death warrants as neither any appeal nor any application/petition is pending before any competent authority qua the condemned convicts”.

It was also argued that taking into consideration the seven days period granted by the Delhi High Court on February 5, this court must fix February 20 as the date of execution of death warrants.

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The application by the Delhi government and Tihar was opposed by the counsel for the four convicts, in which advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Mukesh told the court that “the seven days period is not only available to the convicts but is also binding upon the authorities including this court”.

Advocate A P Singh, appearing for remaining three convicts, sought that the application be dismissed and the convicts deserve protection under Article 21 of the Constitution of India till their last breath.

As of now, Mukesh has exhausted all legal remedies including the clemency plea which was dismissed by the President. The appeal against the rejection was thrown out by the Supreme Court. The curative petitions filed by Vinay and Akshay have been rejected by the apex court. The President also had rejected the mercy plea of Vinay. Pawan is yet to file his curative and mercy petitions.

Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had argued before the HC that there was a deliberate, calculated design by the convicts to “frustrate the mandate of law” by getting their execution delayed.

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First published on: 08-02-2020 at 04:19:35 am

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