Lawyer AP Singh resorted to all sorts of tactics even on the last day, and in fact the last minute as he knocked the doors of the Supreme Court and Delhi High Court for late-night hearing. However, none got the convicts any reprieve. After almost 45 minutes of the hearing, a special three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the plea of Pawan Kumar Gupta, a death row convict in Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, challenging the rejection of mercy plea by the President.
Hearing the plea in the wee hours of Friday, the bench headed by Justice R Banumathi and comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice A S Bopanna said the apex court didn't find "any ground to entertain the petition".
"The plea...dismissed," the bench said.
The convict Pawan's plea, which was the last legal hurdle for the hanging of the four death row convicts -- Vinay, Akshay, Pawan and Mukesh -- in the case has been exhausted.
The hanging is now scheduled at 5:30 a.m. on Friday.
With dismissal of Pawan's plea, the Tihar jail authorities can now go ahead with the scheduled hanging of the convicts.
In a last ditch effort, Pawan's counsel A P Singh had moved the apex court to stay the execution of the accused.
Earlier, the convicts moved the Delhi High Court for a stay on their execution. The court, however, dismissed it.
In a hearing, which went post midnight, a bench comprising justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula, refused to grant any relief to Akshay Kumar, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma and rejected their petition, saying it was devoid of merits.
While dismissing the plea, the bench said pending petitions of the convicts in various fora is untenable in law as a ground to stay execution.
The high court in its order also said the plea of juvenility of Pawan had been raised all the way up to the Supreme Court and was rejected each time and, therefore, it cannot be agitated in the present case.
Advocate A P Singh, counsel for the convicts, told media persons outside the court that "the system was against them".
The justice will be delivered in the Nirbhaya case on Friday morning, more than seven years after the crime took place in the heart of the national capital.
Even though the four men adopted all the manoeuvres to delay the hangings, justice will finally be imparted to India's daughter -- Nirbhaya -- on Friday.
The case pertains to the gruesome gang-rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, later dubbed as Nirbhaya, by six men in a moving bus on December 16, 2012. Her male friend was also assaulted following which the duo was thrown on the road. She succumbed to her injuries thirteen days later.
The attackers inserted rod inside her vagina and ripped her intestines apart. The brutality of the crime shook the nation to the core, leading to wide-spread protests and a drastic change in the country's rape laws.
(With IANS inputs)