President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday rejected the mercy plea of Mukesh Singh, one of the convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case, PTI reported, quoting sources. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs had earlier on Friday forwarded the mercy plea to Kovind, and recommended that he reject it. On Wednesday, the Delhi government had recommended that the mercy petition be rejected.

Convicts Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Kumar Singh and Pawan Gupta were to be hanged inside Tihar Jail in Delhi on January 22, but the Delhi government on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that they cannot be executed that day due to the mercy plea filed by Mukesh Singh.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to hear curative petitions of two of the convicts – Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh. Following this, Mukesh Singh filed the mercy plea with President Ram Nath Kovind. He also moved the Delhi High Court to set aside the death warrant issued by a trial court.

Before the president’s decision, the mother of the murdered woman said: “Till now, I never talked about politics, but now I want to say that those people who held protests on streets in 2012, today the same people are only playing with my daughter’s death for political gains.”

On Thursday, the mother asked why she should suffer for the “negligence” of Tihar Jail officials and the government. “There are several loopholes and escape routes for the convicts’ benefit, but for somebody like me – who had to do the rounds of the courts for so many years after witnessing the death of my only daughter – there seems to be no respite at all.”

She said that all this was being done to delay the execution at the behest of the government and court, News18 reported. “We are being made to run from one court to the other daily,” she said. “It is as if someone else committed the crime and we are being punished.”

On Thursday, the court of Sessions Judge Satish Arora heard 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 court in turn asked Tihar officials to inform the court about the procedure followed under the Delhi Prison Rules, 2019.

The case

Six men raped and brutally assaulted the 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 in the national Capital and 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. The fourth, Akshay Kumar Singh, filed a review plea last month, and that too was rejected.