New Delhi, February 7: A Delhi court Friday dismissed the pleas of Delhi government and Tihar jail authorities seeking fresh date for execution of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana took note of the Delhi High Court’s February 5 order permitting the convicts to exercise their legal remedies within one week.
“It is criminally sinful to execute the convicts when law permits them to live. The High Court on February 5 has permitted the convicts, in the interest of justice, to exercise their legal remedies within one week from same order,” the court said.
“I concur with counsel for convicts that death warrants cannot be executed merely on basis of surmises and conjectures. The application is bereft of merit. Same is dismissed. State is at liberty to move appropriate application as and when required,” the judge said.
In its order, the high court was critical of the delay caused by the authorities in seeking issuance of death warrants for the convicts as also of the “delay tactics” adopted by the convicts.
“All the authorities concerned were sleeping” and waited till December 2019 “for reasons best known to them” to seek issuance of death warrants, the high court said.
The Delhi government moved the trial court for issuance of black warrants two years after the Supreme Court in 2017 had dismissed the review petition against the confirmation of death penalty.
During the day’s proceedings, the lawyer appearing for the convicts termed the application as “pre mature” and said “the State is in hurry to hang the convicts”.
The trial court had on January 31 stayed “till further orders” execution of the four convicts in the case — Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31), who are lodged in Tihar Jail.
In the application, the authorities said the President has already dismissed the mercy petitions of three convicts and that no application by any of the four is currently pending before any court.
Pawan has not yet filed a curative petition — the last and final legal remedy available to a person which is decided in-chamber. Pawan also has the option of filing a mercy plea.
The authorities had also informed the court about the Delhi High Court’s February 5 order which directed the convicts to take steps within a week, if they wished, to avail any remedy available under the law.
“It is, therefore, most respectfully prayed that, keeping in view a week’s time given to the convicts by high court, the fresh dates for execution of death warrants…may kindly be fixed specifying the date and time for execution/ hanging of convicts Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma, Mukesh and Akshay in the interest of justice,” the application had said.
The warrants, issued by the trial court on January 7, were later postponed “sine die” by it on January 31, giving the condemned prisoners a reprieve for the second time in two weeks.
The date of execution, first fixed for January 22 in Tihar jail, was later postponed for 6 am on February 1 by a January 17 court order.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’ (fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.
Six people including the four convicts, Ram Singh and a juvenile — were named as accused.
The trial of the five adult men began in a special fast-track court in March 2013.
Ram Singh, the prime accused, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in Tihar jail days after the trial began. The juvenile, who was said to be the most brutal of the attackers, was put in a correctional home for three years.
The juvenile was released in 2015 and sent to an undisclosed location amid concerns over a threat to his life. He, when released, was 20 years old.
Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay and Pawan were sentenced to death in September 2013 by the trial court. (PTI)