Will Nirbhaya’s killers hang in the next 14 days?
New Delhi, Mar 05: The Delhi government on Wednesday moved a city court seeking a fresh date for execution of the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, after President Ram Nath Kovind rejected the last remaining mercy plea in the case.
According to Delhi Prison Rules, a 14-day period has to be given to a death row convict after the dismissal of a clemency plea before the prisoner can be hanged. All the four men are to be hanged together.
A Union home ministry official said President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected the mercy petition of 25-year-old Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the four condemned prisoners.
The Delhi government told Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana that all legal remedies of the convicts have been exhausted and nothing survives now.
The judge then directed the convicts to file their response by tomorrow even as the lawyer for the prosecution said no notice was required.
While issuing the notice, the court said principles of natural justice are part of Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution and the sacrosanct principle of "Audi alteram partem" (listen to the other side) cannot be ignored.
The hanging of Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) besides Pawan previously scheduled for March 3 was deferred for the third time in six weeks by the court on Monday in yet another twist in the case marked by apparent delaying tactics by the condemned prisoners. The President has already rejected the mercy petitions of Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay.
The court on Monday postponed the hanging till further orders.
Nirbhaya's father expressed the hope that the convicts will be hanged this month.
"He(Pawan) has one option left -- that is to challenge the mercy plea in Supreme Court as the others have done. Let's see what happens next, but we are confident of getting justice," he told PTI over phone.
"We are hopeful that the convicts will be hanged this month and justice will be finally delivered to us after a long wait," he said.
The first date of execution-January 22-fixed on January 7 was postponed by the court to February 1. But on January 31, the court indefinitely postponed the hanging. On February 17, the court again issued fresh date for execution of death warrants for March 3 at 6 am.
The Delhi High Court, meanwhile, declined to entertain a plea seeking directions to the National Human Rights Commission(NHRC) to intervene and enquire into the mental and physical state of the four death row convicts.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said the petition was not maintainable as it should have been first filed before the NHRC.
Asking the petitioner to move the NHRC, the bench disposed of his plea.
Six people, including the four convicts and a juvenile, were named as accused. Ram Singh, the sixth accused, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar jail days after the trial began in the case.
The juvenile was released in 2015 after spending three years in a correctional home.
The case has witnessed a series of twists and turns right after a Delhi court on September 13, 2013 awarded the death sentence to the four convicts, less than one year after the 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as 'Nirbhaya' (fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012 in a moving bus in south Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.
Review petitions and curative petitions were then filed in a staggered manner in the Supreme Court against the Delhi High Court order on March 13, 2014 confirming the death sentence. The last option of mercy petition before the President to escape the gallows was exercised by the convicts one by one.