The Delhi High Court on Wednesday ruled that all the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case should exercise their legal remedies within a week.

Post one week, the proceedings against the convicts — Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur Singh and Pawan Gupta — for the execution of death warrant will be initiated.

The court, meanwhile, dismissed Centre’s plea challenging a trial court order which had stayed the execution of the convicts.

The Delhi High Court said the death warrant against the four convicts cannot be executed separately. It observed that Delhi prison rules do not state that if mercy petition of one convict is pending, the execution of the other convicts can take place.

The Patiala House Court had on January 31 deferred the hanging of four convicts in Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case — scheduled for February 1 — till further orders.

“Without commenting upon the dilatory tactics adopted by the convicts, it would suffice to state that seeking redressal of one’s grievances through procedure established by law was the hallmark of any civilized society. The courts of this country cannot afford to adversely discriminate any convict, including death row convicts in pursuit of his legal remedies, by turning Nelson’s eye towards him,” the court had observed.

The Centre, by its plea filed through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, then challenged the order of Additional Sessions Judge, Patiala House Court, Dharmendra Rana.

The Solicitor General, while arguing the matter before the high court, contended that the lower court order provides a “perverse and misleading interpretation” of Rule 836 of the Delhi Prison Rules.

The Delhi High Court had on Sunday reserved its order on the plea filed by the Central government challenging the trial court order.

Mukesh and Vinay have exhausted their legal remedies. However, a decision on Akshay’s mercy plea is pending before the President. Pawan has yet not availed the remedy of mercy petition, which is the last constitutional resort. He has also not availed the remedy of curative petition, which is the last judicial resort.

According to a January 7 order, the convicts were to be hanged at 7 am on January 22.

However, Delhi’s Patiala House Court on January 17 had to issue a fresh death warrant as convict Mukesh on January 14 moved the Delhi High Court challenging the death warrant issued against him.

According to the provision of the Delhi Jail Manual, a convict should get 14 days time after his mercy petition is dismissed.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Nirbhaya’s parents on Tuesday made an urgent mentioning before Justice Suresh Kumar Kait of the Delhi High Court seeking early disposal of the Centre’s plea for vacating the stay on the death warrants against the four convicts in the gang-rape and murder case.

The 23-year-old woman, who came to be known as Nirbhaya, was gangraped and tortured on December 16, 2012, in a moving bus which led to her death. All the six accused were arrested and charged with sexual assault and murder. One of the accused was a minor and appeared before a juvenile justice court, while another accused committed suicide in Tihar Jail.

Four of the convicts were sentenced to death by a trial court in September 2013, and the verdict confirmed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014 and upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2017, which also dismissed their review petition in July 2018.