With two Nirbhaya convicts moving to stop their execution scheduled on February 1, uncertainty again looms over the hanging of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gang-rape and murder case. 

As one convict’s petition against the rejection of his mercy plea was rejected by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, another rapist moved to the President for mercy while the third prisoner filed a curative petition before the apex court. 

The four convicts – Akshay Singh Thakur, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma – are scheduled to be hanged at 6 AM on February 1 after a Delhi court issued death warrants against them earlier this month. This was the second death warrant after the Mukesh filed a mercy petition to the President and several pleas in various courts.

Earlier, the court issued death warrants on January 7 and fixed January 22 as the hanging date.

The Supreme Court’s five-judge bench, headed by Justice NV Ramana, will hear on Thursday the curative petition of Akshay seeking commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment.

The curative petition was filed on the same day as a three-judge bench of the top court dismissed Mukesh’s petition, saying that all documents were placed before President Ram Nath Kovind and he had taken them into consideration before rejecting the mercy plea. 

On the same day, Vinay filed mercy petition at the Rashtrapati Bhavan through his lawyer AP Singh. 

“I have filed the mercy petition for Vinay before the President. I have submitted it through hand,” Singh was quoted as saying by PTI.

Earlier on January 14, the apex court had dismissed the curative petition of Vinay.

The process is likely to delay their hanging as their execution cannot go forward until they have exhausted all their legal options including the mercy plea. 

According to Delhi Prison Rules, none of the convicts, sentenced for the same crime, can be executed before all of them have exhausted all their legal options.

Tihar jail authorities, where the four death row convicts are lodged, will now have to inform the trial court that Vinay’s mercy plea is pending before the President. 

As per the Supreme Court guidelines, convicts cannot be hanged until 14 days have passed after their mercy plea has been rejected by the President.

A 23-year-old psychotherapy student, dubbed by media as ‘Nirbhaya’, was gangraped and brutalised on a moving bus on December 16, 2012 before being dumped on the road. She was airlifted to Singapore where she died on December 29, 2012. 

Six people, including a juvenile, were arrested for the crime. The juvenile was released after serving a three-year term at a juvenile home, one convict allegedly committed suicide in jail while four others – Mukesh Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) – are set to be hanged on February 1.

Courtesy : DNA

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