A fresh death warrant, the third one in less than two months, has been issued by Delhi’s Patiala House Court against the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya rape and murder case, who will now be executed at 6 am on March 3.

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana pronounced the order on a petition seeking issuance of fresh date for execution of death warrants in the case pertaining to the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in the national capital in December 2012.

The new date of execution was issued as the 7-day deadline set by the Delhi High Court for the exhaustion of all legal remedies ended and there is no petition pending in any court as of date.

Tihar Jail’s Law Officer handed over the status report to the court. Special Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan apprised the court about the current status of the case and also stated that out of the four convicts, three have already exhausted their legal remedies.

The Special Public Prosecutor also stated that the Delhi High Court had given seven days to the convicts to exhaust all the legal remedies available to them and that period is over.

Meanwhile, the court has discharged Advocate Vrinda Grover as convict Mukesh Singh’s counsel after the convict showed his unwillingness to continue her in the case. Advocate Ravi Qazi has now been appointed as a counsel for Mukesh.

Reacting on the development, Nirbhaya’s mother, Asha Devi, said that she is “not very happy as this is the third time that the death warrant has been issued”.

“We have struggled so much, so I am satisfied that death warrant has been issued finally. I hope they (convicts) will be executed on March 3,” she said.

Last week, the victim’s mother broke down in the courtroom and pleaded with folded hands in front of the judge saying she has been seeking a date of hanging of the four convicts for years now, as the trial court granted convict Pawan Gupta the liberty to choose his own counsel.

On Friday last week, the petition filed by convict Vinay Sharma, to the Supreme Court against the rejection of the mercy petition by the President was dismissed by the court.

Earlier this month, the Delhi court had dismissed a request by the Tihar Jail authorities seeking fresh warrants to hang all the four convicts.

The trial court, while dismissing the plea of prosecution, stated that death warrants cannot be issued on the basis of conjecture alone.

“It is criminally sinful to execute the convicts when the law permits them to live,” the court observed.

Delhi High Court had on February 5 ruled that all the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case should exercise their legal remedies within a week.

The high court said the death warrant against the four convicts — Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur Singh and Pawan Gupta — 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 four convicts in the gangrape case — which triggered a massive nationwide outrage in 2012 – have been exploring every legal option one by one to stretch the date of their hanging as much as they can.

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.

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

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.