The Delhi government on Wednesday told the High Court that execution of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case cannot take place on January 22 as a mercy plea has been filed by one of them.

The four convicts — Vinay Sharma (26), Mukesh Kumar (32), Akshay Kumar Singh (31) and Pawan Gupta (25) — were to be hanged at 7 am on January 22.

However, the government’s declaration came as Mukesh, one of the four convicts in the case, on Tuesday moved the Delhi High Court challenging the death warrant issued against him.

The plea sought directions for setting aside the trial court order and not to give effect to the order for execution of death sentence on January 22.

Justices Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal were told by the Delhi government and the Centre that the petition filed by convict Mukesh, challenging his death warrant, was premature.

The Delhi government and the prison authorities informed the court that under the rules, it will have to wait for the mercy plea to be decided before executing the death warrant.

They also said that none of the four convicts can be executed on January 22 unless the present mercy plea is decided.

The Supreme Court had earlier on Tuesday dismissed the curative petitions of two of the four convicts, on death row, in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.

A five-judge bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Arun Mishra, Rohinton Fali Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan had heard the curative petitions filed by Vinay Sharma and Mukesh, who moved the apex court on January 9.

Delhi’s Patiala House Court had on January 7 issued death warrants against all the four convicts in the 2012 case.

While issuing death warrants, the trial court observed that “despite being afforded sufficient time and opportunity”, the convicts didn’t exercise their legal remedies.

The Supreme Court has already confirmed death penalty for all the four convicts. The court found no merit in conducting the review and upheld the capital punishment given by the trial court and confirmed by the Delhi High Court in the case.

One of the accused in the case, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide at Tihar Jail in Delhi.

A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board. He was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.

A 23-year-old paramedic student, who came to be known as Nirbhaya, was gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a running bus in south Delhi by six persons and severely assaulted before being thrown out on the road. She succumbed to injuries on December 29 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.