Two of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case on Saturday moved a Delhi court seeking stay on the execution of the death warrants, scheduled for March 3. Additional Session Judge Dharmender Rana issued notice to Tihar Jail authorities on the pleas moved of Akshay Singh and Pawan Kumar Gupta, directing the officials to file their response by March 2.
In his plea moved through his lawyer, Singh claimed that he has filed a fresh mercy petition before the President of India, which is pending. Advocate A P Singh, appearing for Singh, said that his earlier mercy petition that was dismissed by the President did not have complete facts. In his petition, Gupta told the court that he has filed a curative petition before the Supreme Court, which is pending.
He said that he also has an option to file a mercy petition. Both the convicts told the court that a number of other petitions are also pending before the Supreme Court and other authorities. The court had on February 17 ordered that the four convicts -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) -- be hanged on March 3 after it issued fresh death warrants, observing that deferring the execution any further would be "sacrilegious" to the rights of the victim for expeditious justice.
It directed that the four men be hanged by neck on March 3 at 6 am until they are dead. This was for the third time that the death warrants were issued by the court against them. The court had noted that death warrants were earlier issued on January 7 and the execution was later deferred twice, i.e., on January 17 and January 31. "Now deferring it any further would be sacrilegious to the rights of the victim for expeditious justice," it had said. Pawan was the only one among the four convicts who had not yet filed the curative petition -- the last legal remedy available to a person, which is decided in-chamber by judges. He has not filed the mercy plea either.
The first date of execution, January 22, was postponed to February 1 by a January 17 court order. Then the trial court, on January 31, stayed, "till further orders" the execution of the four convicts as they had not exhausted all their legal remedies. The court is hearing the applications by Nirbhaya's parents and the Delhi government, seeking fresh death warrants for the convicts after the Supreme Court granted liberty to the authorities to approach the trial court for issuance of fresh date for the execution of these convicts.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as 'Nirbhaya' (fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in south Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.