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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Death warrants against Dec 16 convicts only after mercy pleas rejected: Court

A Delhi court adjourned the hearing on the death warrants against the four convicts in the case to January 7, observing that “only when their mercy petitions are rejected that death warrants may be issued”.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi | Published: December 19, 2019 2:37:20 am
Death warrants against Dec 16 convicts only after mercy pleas rejected: Court Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora said in his view, fresh notice must be issued to all four convicts to apprise them about their legal remedies. (File photo)

Hours after the Supreme Court dismissed the review petition of December 16, 2012 gangrape-murder convict, Akshay Kumar Singh, a Delhi court adjourned the hearing on the death warrants against the four convicts in the case to January 7, observing that “only when their mercy petitions are rejected that death warrants may be issued”.

Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora said in his view, fresh notice must be issued to all four convicts to apprise them about their legal remedies. Delhi Prisons DG Sandeep Goel said, “We have sent notices to the convicts, which say they have seven days to apply for mercy petition.”

The victim’s mother broke down in front of the judge and asked him: “The convicts have been given one more chance. Why are their rights being considered? What about our rights?”

To which, the judge said: “I have full sympathy with you. I know someone has died, but they (convicts) also have rights. You also have your right, which is why we are here to consider it.”

Later in the day, the counsel for another convict filed a petition in court, saying he was a juvenile at the time of the crime. The lawyer, A P Singh, also informed the court that a case is pending before the Delhi High Court pertaining to the issue of juvenility of another accused, Vinay.

On Wednesday, the four convicts were produced before the court through video conferencing, where the judge informed them about the new notice. While Vinay told the judge that he was not properly represented, Mukesh asked for someone else to represent him after his lawyer failed to turn up the second time. The court urged the case’s amicus curiae, Vrinda Grover, to represent the two convicts, which she accepted.

Additional Public Prosecutor Irfan Ahmad argued that nothing was stopping the court from issuing death warrants, as the convicts may file their mercy petitions later. The judge, however, said death warrants will be issued only when mercy petitions are rejected.

When the counsel for the victim’s mother said a reply on Tihar’s notice was not required, the judge said: “It is the principles of natural justice..in fact the mandate is that the convicts are to be heard.”

A 23-year-old physiotherapy student was raped by six men aboard a private bus on December 16, 2012. She died on December 29 at a hospital in Singapore.

Of the six accused, one was juvenile and spent three years in a correction home. One accused, Ram Singh, committed suicide in Tihar Jail.

In September 2013, a fast-track court held the four convicts guilty of 13 offences including gangrape, unnatural sexual assault, murder of the woman, and attempt to murder her male friend.

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