The four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case will now be executed at 6 am on February 1 after new death warrants were issued on Friday, NDTV reported. The new warrants were issued hours after President Ram Nath Kovind rejected the mercy plea of Mukesh Singh, one of the convicts.

Convicts Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Kumar Singh and Pawan Gupta were to be hanged inside Tihar Jail in Delhi on January 22 at 7 am, but the Delhi government on Wednesday told the High Court that they cannot be executed that day due to the mercy plea filed by Mukesh Singh.

On Thursday, Tihar Jail officials asked for a new date of execution and said that the convicts cannot be hanged till all the mercy petitions were settled. Three other convicts have not filed their pleas, which they have the option to do any time before their execution. However, a convict cannot be executed without being given 14 days’ notice after the mercy petition is rejected.

“The applicant is entitled to a fair consideration of his mercy plea without the shadow of the noose hanging over him,” said Singh’s lawyer Vrinda Grover, according to The Indian Express. “There is no purpose in keeping the warrant alive as it is in defiance of law”.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had 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. Earlier on Friday, Kovind rejected the mercy petition of convict Mukesh Singh after the Home ministry’s recommendation. On Wednesday, the Delhi government had recommended that the mercy petition be rejected.

The day before, the mother of the gangrape victim had said that politics was being played with regard to the convicts’ execution. “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.

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 and in the Capital.

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.