A Delhi court on Tuesday issued the death warrants of the four convicts in the 2012 gangrape case, and scheduled their hanging at 7 am on January 22, ANI reported. The convicts can use their legal remedies until then, the court said.

The court had reserved its order on the issuance of death warrants on Monday. During the hearings, the prosecution had said none of the convicts had any application pending before any court or the president of India as of now and the Supreme Court had dismissed their review petitions. The prosecution said the convicts could file curative petitions, if they wanted, between the time of issuance of warrants and the hanging.

“We will file curative petition in Supreme Court,” AP Singh, the counsel of the convicts, told ANI. “There has been pressure of media, public and political pressure in this case since [the] beginning. Unbiased probe could not take place in this case.”

After the death warrants were issued, the family of the woman who had been raped expressed relief. Her father told ANI that the decision would instil fear in those who commit such crimes, while her mother said she had got justice. “This decision will strengthen the trust of people in the judicial system,” she said.

Gruesome case

The four men, and two others, raped and brutally assaulted a 23-year-old woman in a moving bus in Delhi on the night of December 16, 2012. She succumbed to injuries two weeks later at a hospital in Singapore. The gangrape triggered huge protests across India.

One of the convicts died in prison, while a minor was sent to a detention home for juveniles. He was released in December 2015. The four others were awarded the death penalty by a trial court in September 2013. The ruling was upheld by the Delhi High Court six months later and the Supreme Court in May 2017.

Three of the four – Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh and Pawan Gupta – filed review petitions against the punishment, but the Supreme Court rejected them in July 2018. In December 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking the immediate execution of the four. The fourth convict, Akshay Kumar Singh, filed a review plea last month, but it was also rejected by the top court.

In October, Tihar Jail officials informed the four convicts 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. Their deadline was November 5. Of the four, only Vinay Sharma filed a petition. The Delhi government, however, recommended that his mercy petition be rejected.

‘Hope people who misbehave with women will learn’: Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said this was a long-awaited wish of the residents of the national Capital. “I hope people who misbehave with women learn from this, that they will not be spared and law will take its course in their case,” the chief minister told news channel Aaj Tak.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the entire country was waiting for this and described the ruling as a “victory of the law”. “I am happy that hard work of her family, lawyers has paid off,” he said, according to PTI.

Union minister G Kishan Reddy said the wait for justice was over and that it was not about the execution of the convicts but the judgement that showed there no tolerance for such crimes and judgements should be passed quickly.

Congress spokesperson Sushmita Dev noted that it took seven years to reach this judgement and said that “justice delayed is justice denied”. “I heard somewhere that the government has said it will remove the right to appeal in a serious heinous crime,” she said. “I feel right to appeal should not be totally done away with...but even in appellate jurisdiction in a serious crime like Nirbhaya, it should be time-bound.”

Haryana’s Women and Child Development Minister Kamlesh Dhanda lauded the court’s decision and said that the convicts deserved the punishment. “There is a law in Haryana that people who commit such crimes with girls under the age of 12 years will get executed,” she said, according to ANI.

National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma also said the death warrants will restore people’s faith in the judiciary and act as deterrent to crimes against women.

Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal welcomed the decision and commended the woman’s parents for fighting for seven years. She also questioned the reason the ruling took seven years and why the time period cannot be reduced.