The Delhi government on Wednesday recommended rejecting the mercy petition filed by Mukesh Singh, one of the death-row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case, PTI reported.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the state government had forwarded the plea to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal at “lightning speed”. It will then be sent to the Union Home Ministry.

Singh filed the mercy plea before President Ram Nath Kovind on Tuesday, hours after his curative petition against death penalty was rejected by the Supreme Court. He had also filed a petition against the death warrant in the Delhi High Court, which was rejected earlier on Wednesday.

Singh and three other convicts – Vinay Sharma, Akshay Singh and Pawan Gupta – were scheduled to be hanged at 7 am on January 22. But they are not likely to be hanged till Singh’s mercy petition is decided, the Delhi government and Tihar jail authorities told the High Court.

“We learnt that a petition has been filed and we have recommended its rejection and sent it at lightning speed to the LG,” Sisodia said. “There will be no delay from our side, we can assure you that.”

However, National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma criticised the Delhi government for its “delaying tactics” in the execution of the convicts.

Her remarks came after the Delhi government told the Delhi High Court that none of the convicts can be hanged according to prison rules till the mercy petition is decided. “These are delaying tactics and I really condemn it,” Sharma said. “They should be hanged on the date given by the court, which is January 22. Why has the Delhi government suddenly woken up in the matter?”

The 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.

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 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. 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.