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Nirbhaya case convicts not to be hanged tomorrow, orders court

Earlier, on Monday, the Patiala House Court had dismissed the pleas of Pawan Kumar Gupta and Akshay Kumar Singh, two of the convicts, which sought a stay on the execution of their death warrants.

SNS | New Delhi |

The four convicts in the gangrape and battery case of Nirbhaya won’t be hanged tomorrow as scheduled. This was pronounced by a Delhi court on Monday evening.

Earlier, on Monday, the Patiala House Court had dismissed the pleas of Pawan Kumar Gupta and Akshay Kumar Singh, two of the convicts, which sought a stay on the execution of their death warrants.

It bears recall that all the four convicts in the case were scheduled to be hanged on March 3 at Delhi’s Tihar Jail. However, the court decided to hear the lawyer of Pawan Kumar Gupta after it was informed that he has filed a mercy plea before the President of India after his curative petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court earlier in the day.

With the mercy petition still pending with President Ram Nath Kovind, the convicts have not exhausted all their legal options, the judge ruled.

However, the court had come down heavily on Pawan’s lawyer AP Singh as it slammed the latter for acting late in filing curative and mercy pleas and told him sternly that he is “playing with fire” and “should be cautious”, the judge had said adding, “One wrong move by anybody and you know the consequences.”

The President has already dismissed the mercy pleas of three other convicts Mukesh Kumar Singh, Vinay Kumar Sharma, and Akshay Thakur.

During the course of proceedings, Public Prosecutor Irfan Ahmad told the court that condemned convicts are playing with the rule of law and are adopting all kinds of frivolous tactics to delay the hanging. “There is no plausible or legal ground to stay the execution of death sentence which has already been deferred twice.”

Meanwhile, AP Singh, representing the convicts, said that Rule 836 of the Delhi Prison Rule, 2018, unequivocally mandates that “as long as any appeal or application of the convict is pending before the apex court, the deaths sentence cannot be executed.”

He argued that the court should stay the execution of death sentence against all the convicts otherwise the remedies would become “meaningless and illusionary”.

The trial court on February 17 issued a fresh death warrant against the four convicts ordering their execution on March 3.

The 23-year-old woman, who came to be known as Nirbhaya, was gang-raped and assaulted 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, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail days after the trial began in the case.