Three of the four death-row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case moved a court on Wednesday asking for a stay on their execution, saying that the second mercy plea of one them has been pending, reported PTI. The convicts – Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta – are scheduled to be hanged at Tihar Jail in Delhi on March 20 at 5.30 am. Mukesh Singh is the fourth convict.

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana has asked Tihar jail officials and the Delhi Police to respond to the petition, and the matter will be taken up on Thursday. Convict Thakur on Tuesday filed a second mercy petition before President Ram Nath Kovind. On Tuesday, Gupta filed a curative plea against the rejection of his review plea on the juvenile claim.

The court on Wednesday asked the convicts’ lawyer AP Singh why he filed an application at the end of the working day with one day left for the hanging. The counsel responded saying that the four convicts had a number of petitions pending in various courts.

Wednesday’s petition highlighted that the mercy pleas by Thakur and Gupta were pending before President Kovind, adding that a divorce plea filed by Thakur’s wife was pending before a court in Bihar. It said the applications needed time for review and therefore the execution date should be set aside.

The four men raped and brutally assaulted a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in a moving bus in Delhi on December 16, 2012. So far, four death warrants have been issued for the hanging. The first was 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.

Meanwhile, former Supreme Court Justice Kurian Joseph said hanging the four men will not ensure justice for the woman’s parents. “By hanging these people, will such type of crimes stop?” he asked, according to ANI. “In Bachan Singh case, Supreme Court had said that the death penalty can be handed over in rarest of the rare cases, and that too, only when all other options are unquestionably foreclosed.”

The former judge said that justice did not mean for a life, and that the lack of freedom was the worst that a person could get. “I don’t think that by hanging the four convicts the parents of Nirbhaya will get justice,” Joseph added. “I have all sympathies definitely for the parents of the victim. I really feel sorry.”

Joseph said that the aim of punishment was retribution, restitution and reformation. He added that even if the courts had not considered this, it was the duty of the president and the government to take them into account.