In an interim relief for rape convict Dharampal,the Punjab and Haryana High Court Saturday stayed his execution till April 10. This came a day after Haryana DGP,Prisons,Sharad Kumar said he would be hanged on April 15 in Ambala jail,where he has been shifted from Rohtak.
Fearing an early hanging,Dharampals counsel Navkiran Singh moved the High Court Saturday. Since it was a holiday,a special request was made to the Chief Justice,who asked two judges to hold a special division bench.
The counsel argued that the Supreme Court had held that a convict has the right to demand commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment if there has been substantial delay in adjudication of his mercy petition.
In Dharampals case,the hanging has been delayed for 14 years. The court heard the argument and asked the DGP to respond to Dharampals petition by April 10.
Dharampal was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 1991 for raping a girl in Sonepat. Soon after he was paroled in 1993 he,along with brother Nirmal,murdered the girl,her father,mother and two brothers while they were sleeping at their house.
Dharmapal and Nirmal were sentenced to death on May 5,1997,which was upheld by the High Court in 1998. The SC commuted Nirmals death penalty to life imprisonment but retained Dharampals. His mercy petition was rejected by the President in 2005.