A court in Delhi brought a major jolt, on Friday, Jan 31, in the hearts of the people waiting to see the remaining 4 culprits of the 2012 Nirbhaya Gang Rape and ruthless murder case, hang till death on Saturday, February 1. The court has put a stay on the execution of the gangrape and murder convicts till further notice. The Additional Sessions Judge, Dharmender Rana, passed the order while hearing the plea forwarded by the convicts to hold their execution scheduled on Saturday.
Reacting on the order, the mother of Nirbhaya (changed name of the victim to hide her identity) said that her hopes are dashed but she will continue her fight to see the convicts hanging on the noose. The advocate to the convicts argued in the court that as per the rules, one convict cannot be hanged when the mercy petition of another is pending before the president of India. Notably, the mercy plea of one convict, Vinay Kumar Sharma, was pending before the president, Ram Nath Kovind. President Kovind has rejected Vinay’s mercy plea on Saturday, February 1.
The earlier death warrant, issued on January 7, had set the execution date as January 22, for all the four convicts viz; Pawan Kumar Gupta, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur. However, the date was changed on January 17, to February 1 after the mercy plea of one of the convicts, Mukesh Singh, was rejected by the president of India. The court also rejected the plea forwarded by Pawan to consider his birth certificate issued by his school allegedly declaring him to be a juvenile at the time of the crime in 2012.
The family of the victim as well as the prosecution side have alleged that the four convicts are applying for their mercy plea as well as the other legal tools, prescribed in the prison rules, one after the other, and not at once, to postpone their execution. Under the prison rules, in the case of more than one convicts awaiting for their death penalty, anyone cannot be executed if anyone’s mercy plea is pending.
The prosecution may now move to the higher court challenging the Delhi court’s stay on the convicts’ execution sine die (without a fixed/arranged future date). Though, the legal remedies available with the convicts may prove a boon to them in postponing their execution for few more weeks or months.