More than seven years after the death of a 23-year-old woman who was gangraped and brutally assaulted by six persons inside a moving bus in south Delhi before being thrown out on a road, a Delhi court Tuesday ordered the hanging of four death row convicts at 7 am on January 22 in Tihar Jail.
Akshay Kumar (31), Vinay Sharma (26), Pawan Gupta (25) and Mukesh (32), who appeared before Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora via video-conferencing from Tihar Jail, were informed by the judge about his decision to execute their death warrant.
They will be placed in isolation cells till the date of their execution. They will be hanged to death inside Jail Number 3 at 7 am on January 22 by a hangman from Meerut who will using ropes sourced from Buxar in Bihar. Of the initial six accused, Ram Singh, the bus driver, committed suicide in Tihar Jail during the trial, while one turned out to be a juvenile. Tried by a Juvenile Justice Board, he was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.
With the Supreme Court dismissing their review petitions, lawyers for the four convicts said they will file curative petitions before the Supreme Court and mercy petitions before the President of India. Special Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan told the court there was no remedy pending before any court and the death warrant must be executed. “Issuance of execution order is not the end of the matter. They will be given two weeks for their curative petitions.
They will not be hanged immediately after issuance of the warrant,” he said.
After the warrant was executed, the gangrape victim’s mother emerged from the video-conferencing room, sobbing.
“I have waited for this day so many years. The convicts had been making excuses, delaying this day. I was confident that the warrant will be issued today. The decision will send a message to society, and our daughters will feel more safe in this country,” she said.
Her daughter was gangraped and assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012. Flown to Singapore for treatment, she died at Mount Elizabeth Hospital on December 29.
Convict Mukesh’s mother, who was also present in the court room, broke down, saying “mere bete ki zindagi de do mujhe (give me my son’s life)”.
After the court’s order was communicated to Tihar Jail, Sandeep Goel, Director General of Prisons, said jail authorities will now prepare for the execution of the four convicts. “Three of the accused have been staying in Jail Number 2 and the fourth one is in Jail Number 4. Now they will be put in isolated cells and won’t be allowed any interaction with other prisoners. Our team of doctors will conduct regular medical tests to keep a check on their physical and mental health. We will also take care of their safety. Also, the families of the men can come and meet them during this period,” Goel said.
In his order, ASJ Arora said reasonable time was given to the convicts to exercise legal remedies and there was nothing to delay the court from passing the order. The four convicts had spoken to the judge briefly, apprising him about the lawyers who represented them. Akshay held up a newspaper clipping, alleging that false reports were published regarding the proceedings. “Bahut galat cheeze likhi hai. Aisa nahin hona chahiye (Wrong things have been reported. This is not how things should be). The court did not take cognizance of his complaint and asked the media to leave the video-conferencing room.
Earlier, advocate M L Sharma appeared before the court and said he was representing Mukesh. “My client has been subjected to continuous torture. Any submission made on behalf of Mukesh by any other advocate should not be paid heed to,” Sharma told the judge.
During a hearing on December 18, Mukesh told the judge that he wanted Vrinda Grover, amicus curiae in the case, to represent him. The judge told Sharma his application was “devoid of merits and an abuse of law”. Sharma did not wait for the final order after he was told by Mukesh that he wanted Grover as his lawyer, and walked out of the court room.
Grover submitted a status report to the court, informing it that two convicts, Vinay and Mukesh, would file their curative petitions and she was in the process of procuring some missing legal documents for Mukesh. A P Singh, who appeared for Pawan and Akshay, later told The Indian Express, “I will file curative petitions before the Supreme Court along with the application to stay the death warrant.”