The Delhi High Court on Wednesday gave the four convicts in the 2012 gangrape-murder case one week’s time to resort to all legal remedies available to them, reported PTI. The court said proceedings for their execution will be initiated after seven days.
The court also dismissed the Centre’s plea challenging the trial court order staying the execution of the death-row convicts. It said that the death warrant against the convicts cannot be executed separately. Justice Suresh Kait clarified that all the convicts must be hanged together. The high court however, said the convicts “have frustrated the process by using delaying tactics”.
The woman’s parents had on Tuesday appealed to the Delhi High Court to swiftly deliver a ruling on the Centre’s plea against the stay on the execution of the four convicts.
The court had on Sunday reserved its verdict on the Centre’s petition. It had held a special hearing on Sunday, days after a local court had indefinitely deferred the execution, which was scheduled for 6 am on February 1. Death warrants for the convicts were first issued for January 22 and then postponed to February 1, owing to their mercy pleas.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, had contended that the convicts have a “deliberate, calculated, and well-thought design to frustrate the mandate of law”. He had added that the convicts were exploiting the process of law.
Meanwhile, lawyer AP Singh, appearing for the convicts, had argued that there was no prescribed time given to execute the death sentence by the Supreme Court and Constitution. Advocate Rebecca John, arguing on behalf of convict Mukesh Kumar Singh, had said the Constitution allowed them to exercise legal remedies available till the last breath of their life.
President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected the mercy pleas of two of the convicts – Mukesh Singh and Vinay Sharma. Akshay Singh filed a mercy plea before Kovind on Saturday. The fourth convict, Pawan Gupta, has not yet filed one. The four men were in 2013 sentenced to death for raping and murdering a paramedical student on the night of December 16, 2012. The incident had 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.