The Delhi High Court on Saturday asked the four convicts in the 2012 gangrape-murder case to respond to a petition by the Centre challenging the stay on their execution, PTI reported. A local court had indefinitely deferred the execution, scheduled for 6 am on February 1, on Friday.

The Centre said the court failed to consider that the convicts were guilty of a gruesome and horrible offence. Justice Suresh Kait issued the notices to Akshay Singh, Mukesh Kumar Singh, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta, and said the matter would be heard on Sunday. The court is likely to announce its decision at 3 pm.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta accused the convicts of taking the legal process on a “joyride”. “They are acting in tandem and in such a way that somehow this heinous crime goes unpunished,” he added. The convicts were trying to test the nation’s patience, he added.

Meanwhile, President Ram Nath Kovind rejected the mercy pleas of Vinay Sharma and Akshay Singh, PTI reported.

The four were sentenced to death for raping and murdering a paramedical student on the night of December 16, 2012. The incident sparked countrywide protests. The student died 13 days later at a Singapore hospital.

The convicts were given the death penalty – first by a trial court in September 2013, which was upheld by the Delhi High Court six months later and the Supreme Court in May 2017.