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‘Delaying tactics’, says Tihar Jail on Nirbhaya convicts plea; Delhi court rejects petition

The four convicts in the Nirbhaya case — Akshay Thakur Singh, Pawan Gupta, Mukesh Singh and Vinay Sharma — are set to be hanged at 6 am on February 1.

SNS | New Delhi |

A Delhi court on Saturday disposed of a plea by the lawyer of the death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case, seeking additional documents after the court noted that no documents are pending and all the documents have been supplied.

The Patiala House court was hearing a plea filed by the Nirbhaya convicts that alleged that the Tihar Jail administration have “not presented the papers on time”.

Advocate AP Singh, lawyer for three of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case had moved an application before the court seeking directions to the Tihar Jail authorities to supply him the relevant documents in order to exercise the remaining legal remedies available with the death row convicts — Vinay Pawan and Akshay.

The Public Prosecutor, appearing for the Delhi Police, informed the court that Tihar Jail authorities have already supplied the relevant documents. He further informed that these are mere “delaying tactics adopted by the convicts”.

“The entire process is to defeat the law. We have already supplied all the documents. We procured all the documents from all the jails where they went,” the counsel said.

The Public Prosecutor also told the court that he spoke to the jail authorities over the phone and a report in this regard will be filed shortly as the jail officials were on their way to the court.

The judge demanded from the convicts lawyer to show what he has filed.

The convicts lawyer, Singh, said that he received some documents, but has still not been supplied with the personal diary of one of the convict — Vinay Kumar Sharma and also the medical documents.

Judge then asked the lawyer to wait for until the report arrives form the Tihar Jail.

On this, the convicts lawyer said he was not questioning the intention of the jail. “I know the jail has been changed. It isn’t there fault, too,” he said.

The Public Prosecutor refuted the allegation saying that the defence counsel was trying to defeat the speed of law.

He then produced before the court the diary of one of the convicts, Vinay Kumar Sharma, which he had named ”Darinda”, and several paintings and other documents.

“These are all we have. If the court directs, we can hand these over to the convicts right now,” the counsel said.

Advocate AP Singh, appearing for the convicts, alleged that Vinay was being slow poisoned and was hospitalised, but his medical reports are not being supplied to him.

He further said though he had received some documents Friday night from the jail authorities, Vinay’s personal diary and medical documents have not been supplied.

“They (Tihar jail authorities) say there is no such record. Vinay was being slow poisoned. That’s why he was sent to hospital. Vinay made several paintings about that and we want to inform the President about it. Also, what he earned from those paintings needs to be informed,” Singh said.

He further alleged that another convict Pawan Singh’s head was “split open” in Mandoli jail and he was shifted to a hospital but those documents were not supplied to the counsel too.

The documents related to the third convict Akshay Kumar Singh’s health were also not supplied and were required to file his curative and mercy petitions, the lawyer said.

Singh, in his plea filed before the Patiala House Court had sought urgent orders of the court in order to file a mercy petition of Vinay Sharma and in relation to requests for documents for convicts Vinay Sharma, Pawan Kumar Gupta and Akshay Thankur Singh.

Following the hearing, the Delhi court said no further directions were required on a petition by the lawyer of the death row convicts and disposed of the plea.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had earlier this week moved an application before the Supreme Court praying for modification of the “convict-centric” guidelines and to make them “victim-centric” to reinforce the people’s faith in the rule of law.

This came as the Centre has been facing heat over the procedural delay in execution of death sentence of four convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.

The Centre moved the Supreme Court seeking modification of its January 2014 judgement that didn’t specify deadline for availing legal remedies.

The MHA also urged the apex court to fix a time limit for death-row convicts to file curative petition, that the mercy petition should be filed within 7 days of issue of death warrant, and execution be carried out within 14 days of rejection of the mercy plea.

The urgent appeal came days after a fresh death warrant was issued by Delhi’s Patiala House Court against the four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape case, who will now be executed at 6 am on February 1.

According to a January 7 order, the convicts — Vinay Sharma (26), Mukesh Kumar (32), Akshay Thakur Singh (31) and Pawan Gupta (25) — who were found guilty in the rape and murder of a Delhi medical student, were to be hanged at 7 am on January 22.

One of the convicts, Mukesh had then on January 14 moved the Delhi High Court challenging the death warrant issued against him.

After being rejected by the Delhi government as well the MHA in a hurried process, his mercy plea was rejected by President Ram Nath Kovind on January 17.

As per law, there should be a 14-day gap between the rejection of a death-row convict’s mercy petition and his execution. The new execution date is exactly 14 days from the date of rejection of plea.

The Supreme Court had also recently dismissed the curative petitions of the two convicts — Vinay and Mukesh Singh (32).

The 23-year-old victim, who came to be known as Nirbhaya, was brutally gangraped and tortured on December 16, 2012, inside a running bus in south Delhi by six persons, which later led to her death. All the six accused were arrested and charged with sexual assault and murder.

Four of the convicts were sentenced to death by a trial court in September 2013, and the verdict was confirmed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014 and upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2017, which also dismissed their review petitions.

The fifth accused was a minor and appeared before a juvenile justice court, while a sixth accused committed suicide in Tihar Jail.