The convicts in the Nirbhaya case will get one week to exercise all their legal remedies, after which the trial court will begin proceedings for their execution, the Delhi High Court said today, settling the Centre’s petition against the indefinite freeze on execution placed by the lower court. The judges, however, refused to hang the convicts separately, which was also part of the Centre’s request.
“Delhi Prison Rules do not say that if mercy petition of one convict is pending, the execution of the other convicts can take place,” said Justice Suresh Kait, who was hearing the case.
“Since upto the Supreme Court, their fate has been decided by a common judgment, I am of the opinion that death warrant of all convicts should be executed together and not separately,” the court added.
“I’m glad that the High Court has set a time limit for the process. The convicts have been delaying it, now it has to done within a week,” Nirbhaya’s mother told reporters.
Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Mukesh Singh and Akshay Singh – convicted for the shocking gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student dubbed Nirbhaya by the media in Delhi in 2012 – were to be executed on February 1.
But the trial court postponed the execution indefinitely after a second convict, Vinay Sharma, filed a mercy petition before President Ram Nath Kovind. As his appeal was turned down, another convict, Akshay Singh, filed his mercy plea.
The Centre contended that the convicts were working in tandem, using every possible loophole to delay the execution.
“The accused are trying the patience of the nation. Such delays will shake the faith of people in the administration of justice,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, asking that the execution of the two convicts who exhausted all the legal options be carried out.
The four convicts, along with two others — one of them a minor — had attacked and gang-raped the young woman and tortured her with an iron rod in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012. After fighting for her life for 13 days, she died on December 29 at a hospital in Singapore. The brutality of the attack had outraged the nation, bringing thousands out on the streets in protest.
One of the assailants, just short of 18 when the crime was committed, was released after spending three years in a reform home. The main accused, Ram Singh, was found hanging in jail.