A court in Delhi on Thursday asked Tihar Jail authorities to file a report about the measures taken by them after one of the four convicts in the 2012 gangrape case filed a mercy plea, Live Law reported. This came a day after the Delhi High Court dismissed the convict Mukesh Singh’s plea against his death warrant, and allowed him to challenge it in a sessions court.

The court asked Tihar officials to inform the court about the procedure followed under the Delhi Prison Rules, 2019. The court of Sessions Judge Satish Arora was hearing a plea, filed by Singh’s lawyer Vrinda Grover, that sought a stay on the execution date of January 22 set by the court.

The Supreme Court had on Tuesday dismissed the curative petitions of two of the convicts – Vinay Sharma and Singh. Hours later, Singh 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.

On Thursday, Singh’s counsel told the court that they would not challenge the legal validity of the order passed by the court on January 7. Death warrants against all the four convicts were issued on that day.

Grover argued that the scheduled date of execution had become non-executable as Singh had already filed a mercy plea. She submitted that the petition was pending before the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and President Ram Nath Kovind.

“Because of the events that happened thereafter, the order of execution warrant is unexecutable,” Grover said, according to Bar and Bench. “At no point have we said that the order is erroneous.” The matter was posted for further hearing on Friday.

Singh’s counsel said that the petitioner cannot be executed without being given 14 days’ notice after the mercy petition is rejected. Grover also claimed that Tihar jail officials had not provided her access to certain specific documents that she required to file a mercy plea, reported Hindustan Times. She claimed the jail’s officials did not reply to her request and did not agree to sign her application on the absence of documents.

The court asked the jail administration to file a report on the status of the scheduled execution of convicts. The jail officials told the court that they had written to the Delhi government on the matter of the date of execution in light of the pending remedies.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi has recommended that the Union Ministry of Home Affairs reject Singh’s mercy petition. “The Home Ministry has received the mercy petition from the LG recommending its rejection,” an unidentified ministry official told PTI. “The petition is being examined and an appropriate decision will be taken soon.”

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 last year, 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 same year. Of the four, only Vinay Sharma filed a petition. The Delhi government, however, recommended that his mercy petition be rejected.