Nirbhaya Case: Delhi court stays Jan 22 hanging of convicts over mercy petition

Nirbhaya Case: Delhi court stays Jan 22 hanging of convicts over mercy petition
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New Delhi, January 16: Five days before the four Nirbhaya case convicts are to be hanged, a Delhi court on Thursday directed the Tihar jail authorities to file the status report by Friday about the status of scheduled execution of convicts in the 2012 gang-rape and murder case.
The direction came after Delhi’s Tihar Jail today asked for a new date, saying the execution cannot take place until mercy petitions filed by the convicts are settled.
The convicts, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Singh and Pawan Gupta, are to be hanged at 7 am on January 22, a Delhi court declared last week, putting out a death warrant in the seven-year-old case.
Mukesh Singh filed a mercy petition on Tuesday. Even if it is rejected by the President of India, a convict has to be given 14 days before execution.
Officials of Tihar, where the convicts have been kept, told court today that they have asked the State Government for a new date of execution because of the mercy plea.
“There are five days to January 22. The President is likely to reject the mercy plea in a day or two. Then these people will ask for 14 days’ time. Then they will ask for a new date. In such a situation, how can the hanging take place,” the court said.
The Tis Hazari court judge said, “I am not reviewing my order to pass a death warrant. There will be a stay on the execution of the death warrant since a mercy plea is there. Jail authorities just have to give me this report saying we will not hang them on January 22.”
The Delhi Government had earlier rejected the mercy plea of Mukesh. The mercy plea was then sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs via Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who accepted the recommendation of the Delhi government.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a petition by Mukesh Kumar, one of the four death-row convicts in the Nirbhaya case, challenging a sessions court order fixing the date of his hanging in Tihar jail on January 22. But the Delhi Government said he could not be executed since his mercy plea is pending.
Under the Constitution of India (Article 72), the President of India can grant a pardon or reduce the sentence of a convicted person, particularly in cases involving capital punishment.
Lawyer Seema Kushwaha, appearing for Nirbhaya’s parents argued that the mercy petition is not pending before the President of India. “It has only been filed. We don’t know if it has been sent to the President yet,” she said and added that the hanging cannot be stayed over this petition.
Nirbhaya’s mother, fearing more delay in the execution of the four men, said she had been going to many courts for years but wanted justice now. “If they have rights, we too have the right to justice for our daughter who was killed seven years ago,” she said.
Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said his government had rejected Mukesh Singh’s mercy plea “at lightning speed”. (Agencies)