A court in Delhi on Wednesday adjourned the proceedings on the pleas seeking new death warrants against the four convicts in the 2012 gangrape and murder case, reported Live Law. The woman’s parents and the state government had filed a petition on Tuesday for a new date of execution for the four convicts.
The court of Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana also offered to provide legal aid to convict Pawan Gupta after advocate AP Singh said he was no longer Gupta’s lawyer. However, this was opposed by the woman’s parents, alleging that this was a ploy to delay the execution. To which the court said: “You are saying delaying tactic,” the court said, according to Bar and Bench. “If they are well within their rights to exercise those rights, tell me the legal remedy to deal with it.”
The court ordered that a list of empanelled lawyers be provided to Gupta. The court noted that any convict is entitled to seek legal aid till his last breath.
The matter will be taken up again on Thursday.
The woman’s mother Asha Devi broke down during the hearing and demanded that the court realise the methods employed to delay the convicts’ execution. “Now if a new lawyer is provided to convict Pawan s/he will take his/her own time to go through case files,” she told ANI. “I am wandering here and there to get justice for my daughter. These convicts are using delaying tactics. I don’t know why the court is not able to understand this.”
Later, Asha Devi told the media that the court is supporting the convicts, ANI reported. “The judge does not want to fix a date for hanging the convicts and is supporting them,” she alleged. “I appeal to the Supreme Court to issue the death warrant as the Patiala House Court is in no mood to issue a fresh death warrant.”
In their plea, the woman’s parents had told the court that the convicts were making a mockery of the law and frustrating it by repeatedly filing petitions against their hanging. On January 31, the court had indefinitely deferred the execution, which was scheduled for 6 am on February 1.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed the Centre to approach the trial court to get death warrants issued. The top court also issued notice to the convicts, and will hear the matter on Thursday. A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi said the pendency of the appeal filed by the Centre and the Delhi government would not be an impediment for the trial court in issuing a new execution date.
The convicts’ death warrants were first issued for January 22, and then postponed to February 1 because of the mercy pleas two of them had filed. One of the convicts, Vinay Sharma, on Tuesday challenged the rejection of his mercy petition by President Ram Nath Kovind. Sharma had filed the petition before on January 29. It was rejected by Kovind on February 1. Only convict Pawan Gupta has not yet filed a petition for presidential pardon.
The four men were sentenced to death in September 2013 for raping and murdering a paramedical student on the night of December 16, 2012. The assault sparked countrywide protests. The student died 13 days later at a Singapore hospital. Their death sentence was upheld by the Delhi High Court in March 2014, and by the Supreme Court in May 2017.