Delhi gangrape: HC rejects convict’s plea, but Tihar says can’t hang till mercy petition is settled
However, the High Court allowed the convict, Mukesh Singh, to challenge the death warrant in a sessions court.
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed the plea filed by one of the convicts in the 2012 gangrape case against the death warrants issued against him, PTI reported. However, the High Court allowed Mukesh Singh to challenge the death warrant in sessions court.
The bench of Justices Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal said there was no error in the trial court’s order from January 7 that issued the death warrant against Mukesh Singh.
Mukesh’s lawyers have said they will move the sessions court against the death warrant.
Earlier during the hearing, the Delhi government and Tihar jail authorities told the High Court that they will need to wait before executing the four death row convicts in the 2012 gangrape case until a decision on the mercy plea filed by Mukesh Singh before the president. The execution of the four convicts is scheduled for 7 am on January 22.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had dismissed the curative petitions of two of the convicts – Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Kumar. Hours later, Mukesh Kumar filed a mercy petition before President Ram Nath Kovind – the last recourse available. He had also moved the Delhi High Court to set aside the death warrant issued by a trial court.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government recommended rejecting the mercy plea, PTI reported.
Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for Tihar jail authorities, said in the court that the hanging could only take place 14 days after the mercy plea is rejected, ANI reported. The court was told that Mukesh’s petition challenging his death warrant was premature.
The other two convicts in the case are Akshay Singh and Pawan Gupta.
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.
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. 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.