President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected the mercy petition of Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, Home Ministry said on Wednesday. With this all the four convicts have exhausted their legal options.
“The mercy petition of Pawan has been rejected by the President”, a Home Ministry official was quoted by news agency IANS as saying.
Gupta had filed a mercy plea before President Ram Nath Kovind on March 2 after the Supreme Court dismissed the curative plea filed by him last week. In his plea he urged the court to convert his death sentence to life imprisonment on the basis of his juvenility at the time of crime.
Meanwhile, the President had already dismissed the mercy plea of three other convicts Mukesh Kumar Singh, Vinay Kumar Sharma and Akshay Thakur.
The trial court on February 17 issued a fresh death warrant against the four convicts ordering their execution on March 3. But later on a Delhi court on March 2, pronounced that the four convicts won’t be hanged as scheduled, as the mercy petition of Gupta was still pending with President Ram Nath Kovind, the convicts have not exhausted all their legal options, the judge ruled.
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.
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. He was released from a remand home after completion of his term, while another accused, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail days after the trial began in the case.
The four 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 in May 2017 by the Supreme Court, which also dismissed their review petitions.