A sessions court in Delhi on Monday ruled that the four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case would be executed at 6 am on March 3, NDTV reported. The court was hearing a petition seeking a fresh death warrant against the four.
Additional Session Judge Dharmender Rana issued the fresh warrants for execution. The death warrants were first issued for January 22, and then postponed to February 1 because of the mercy pleas filed by two of the convicts.
After the verdict, the woman’s mother Asha Devi told ANI that they have struggled a lot in the case. “I am not very happy as this is the third time that death warrant has been issued,” she added. “We have struggled so much, so I am satisfied that death warrant has been issued finally. I hope they [convicts] will be executed on March 3.”
At the start of the hearing, Special Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan apprised the court about the current status of the case and said that three convicts in the case have exhausted their legal remedies. He added that the Delhi High Court’s February 5 judgement to give the convicts seven days to exhaust their remedies is over.
Mohan told the court that after the rejection of the mercy petitions, the Tihar Jail authorities have to move court for a new date of execution as per the Delhi Prison Rules, Bar and Bench reported. He said the Supreme Court has stated that the Additional Sessions Court has to consider the application for a fresh date of execution on its own merit.
Meanwhile, advocate Vrinda Grover informed the court that convict Mukesh Kumar Singh did not want her to continue as his counsel. “If the man on death row tells me that I don’t want you, it’s not professional for me to continue,” she added. Singh’s mother moved an application for a different counsel and said she wanted his death penalty to be commuted to life imprisonment.
The court discharged Grover as Singh’s lawyer and appointed advocate Ravi Qazi in her place.
Qazi, also the counsel for convict for Pawan Gupta, said he could not avail any legal remedy as his earlier lawyer did not meet him during the seven-day period granted by the Delhi High Court. He said Gupta’s wanted to move curative petition before the Supreme Court and the mercy plea against the death sentence before the president. Gupta was the only one among the four convicts who had not availed the legal remedies.
The court was also informed that another death row convict, Vinay Sharma, had declared on February 11 that he was on hunger strike. His counsel, AP Singh, also argued that he could not be hanged since he was suffering from mental illness, adding that he was assaulted in jail and has head injuries.
The court directed the Tihar Jail superintendent to take appropriate care of Sharma as per the law.
Akshay Singh’s counsel informed court that he has prepared fresh mercy petition to be moved before the president. “In the earlier mercy petition, due to poverty and ignorance, the complete facts could not be placed,” his lawyer told the court.
The four 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.
On February 13, the court had adjourned till Monday the hearing of the case, saying convict Pawan Gupta should be provided adequate time to seek legal remedies after he was left without a counsel.
Six men raped and brutally assaulted a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in a moving bus in Delhi on the night of December 16, 2012. The woman succumbed to her injuries two weeks later at a hospital in Singapore. The gangrape triggered huge protests in the Capital and across the country. One convict died in prison, while a minor convict was sent to a detention home for juveniles and was released in December 2015.
The victim’s parents and the state government had filed a petition on February 11 for a new execution date.
In their plea, the woman’s parents told the court that the four men were making a mockery of the law and frustrating it by repeatedly filing petitions against their execution. On January 31, the court had indefinitely deferred the execution that was scheduled for 6 am on February 1. On February 14, the Supreme Court dismissed convict Vinay Sharma’s petition challenging the rejection of his mercy plea by the president. Sharma had filed the mercy petition on January 29, and it was rejected by President Ram Nath Kovind on February 1.