Tihar jail officials informed the four convicts on death row in the December 2012 gangrape case that they had exhausted all their options for legal recourse, and were only left with the choice to file a mercy petition before the president of India against their sentence, PTI reported.

Six men had raped and brutally assaulted a 23-year-old student in a moving bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012. The woman succumbed to her injuries two weeks later at a hospital in Singapore. A minor convict was released in December 2015 after serving three years in a detention home for juveniles, while one convict died in prison. The four other convicts were awarded the death penalty.

The notice, issued by the Superintendent of Tihar Central Jail on Tuesday, was sent to the four convicts – Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma, and Akshay Kumar Singh.

“It is hereby informed that in case if you have not yet filed the mercy petition and if you wish to file the mercy petition in your case against the capital sentence before the Hon’ble President of India, you can file it within seven days of the receipt of this notice through prison authorities, failing which it will be presumed that you are not willing to file mercy petition in your case and the jail administration will initiate further necessary legal proceedings as per law,” the notice read.

Tihar Director General Sandeep Goel confirmed that the notice had been given to them, and said the trial court would be notified if they did not file a mercy petition. Following this, the next course of action would be decided. The prison authorities would have to go to a trial court for a death warrant.

Mukesh’s lawyer ML Sharma said that they would challenge the notice in the Supreme Court, and also planned to file a curative plea before it. Sharma said that he was should be able to file the petition in the next three years.

The counsel for Gupta, Sharma, and Singh said he would respond to the notice and also file their respective curative pleas before the Supreme Court. He also said that they would challenge the top court’s July 2018 ruling to dismiss the review petition.

“This initiative should have been taken long ago,” the woman’s mother told The Indian Express. “Two years after the Supreme Court’s verdict, they are yet to file their mercy petitions…They should be hanged as soon as possible.”

The case

A trial court had ordered death sentences for the convicts in September 2013, which was upheld by the Delhi High Court six months later. On May 5, 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the verdicts of the Delhi High Court and the trial court.

In July last year, the court had dismissed a review petition filed by convicts Mukesh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma who had requested that their punishment be reduced to life sentence. The fourth death-row convict, Akshay Kumar Singh, had not filed a review petition. In December 2018, the Supreme Court had dismissed a petition seeking the immediate execution of the four men.

The crime had triggered country-wide protests and demands for better safety of women. The outrage forced the government to introduce new anti-rape laws.

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