The date to hang four convicts in the December 16, 2012 gangrape and murder case has now been fixed for February 1, after a Delhi court Friday issued fresh death warrants.
The court had earlier set January 22 as the date of execution, but convict Mukesh, through lawyer Vrinda Grover, moved an application to postpone the date, arguing that death warrants were unexecutable in light of him filing a mercy petition with the President.
Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora issued fresh death warrants after additional public prosecutor Irfan Ahmed told the court that Mukesh’s mercy petition had been rejected by the President. Mukesh filed the mercy plea earlier this week after his curative petition was dismissed by the apex court.
However, the convicts still have legal remedies available to them— even after rejection of the mercy petition, they can approach the High Court or Supreme Court for a judicial review. Curative petitions of Akshay Kumar Singh and Pawan Gupta have not yet been filed before the Supreme Court. Apart from Mukesh, others have not filed mercy pleas with the President either. Grover Thursday argued that “even after rejection of mercy plea, there are rights that remain alive”.
During the hearing, ASJ Arora said, “When opportunity has been given to the convicts to file their mercy pleas, one convict chooses to file, while the others are silent. These are delay tactics. How far can it be stretched, I do not know”. However, A P Singh, appearing for Akshay and Pawan, claimed that he has been asking for documents to file mercy pleas, but the same has not be handed over to him by Tihar jail authorities.
After the court hearing, the victim’s mother told The Indian Express, “The court has now postponed the date of their hanging. I was prepared for this outcome. How long will they run? One day they will hang.”
The case dates back to December 16, 2012, when a 23-year-old woman was gangraped and assaulted inside a moving bus in South Delhi by six persons, before being thrown out on the road. She died on December 29, 2012. One of the accused, Ram Singh, hanged himself in jail, while another, a juvenile, was convicted of rape and murder and given the maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment in a reform facility.
On January 7, a trial court issued death warrants for 7 am on January 22 for the execution of death sentence awarded to convicts Mukesh (31), Pawan Gupta (24), Vinay Sharma (25) and Akshay Kumar Singh (33). They were convicted and sentenced to death in September 2013. This was upheld by the High Court in March 2014 and by the Supreme Court in May 2017.
The top court also dismissed their pleas seeking review of the confirmation order.
Convict Pawan Kumar Gupta challenged in the Supreme Court, the high court’s December 19 order dismissing his claim of being a juvenile at the time of the offence on December 16, 2012