A court in Delhi on Thursday ruled that the four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape and murder case would be executed at 5.30 am on March 20, PTI reported. The court said Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh and Pawan Gupta have exhausted all their legal options.
This is the fourth time the court has issued the death warrants. 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 this, they were scheduled to be hanged at Tihar Jail in Delhi on March 3 at 6 am, but another mercy plea led to a postponement.
After the issuance of the fresh death warrants, the rape complainant’s mother, Asha Devi, told ANI: “Since the four convicts have exhausted all the legal remedies, I hope that they will be hanged till death on the designated date.”
On Monday, the court had stayed their execution till further orders. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana had deferred the matter after Gupta filed the mercy petition before Kovind earlier in the day. His lawyer had requested the court to stop the execution citing the petition.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday rejected Gupta’s mercy petition. Following this, the Delhi government had approached the court for a new execution date, adding that all legal remedies of the four convicts had been availed. The lawyer for the prosecution also told the court that a notice was not required.
The four men, along with two others, 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.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing to March 23 on a plea seeking separate hangings of the convicts, reported Bar and Bench. A three-judge bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna took note of the new death warrant for the four convicts. The plea challenges a Delhi High Court ruling that said co-convicts cannot be executed separately.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta highlighted that while there was a provision for simultaneous trial of accused in the same case, there was no such law on the execution of convicts in such scenarios. He added that despite the sessions court fixing the date of execution, he suspected that it may be extended again. Mehta also said that it was inhuman to keep a death-row convict alive after he had used up all legal remedies.