The Tihar jail administration has issued notice to all four death row convicts in the sensational 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape-and-murder case asking them to file any mercy pleas against their executions with the President of India withing seven days. Director General (Prison) Sandeep Goel confirmed that jail administration has sought response from the four convicts - Akshay Thakur, Pawan Kumar Gupta, Mukesh Singh and Vinay Sharma. The development came after aDelhi court directed jail authorities on Wednesday to seek within a week response from the four death row convicts on whether they intend to file such pleas.
Earlier on Wednesday, Supreme Court dismissed the plea of Akshay Kumar Singh, one of the four convicts, saying review petition is not "re-hearing of appeal over and over again" and it had already considered the mitigating and aggravating circumstances while upholding the death penalty.
The 23-year-old paramedic student was gang raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012 inside a moving bus in south Delhi by six persons before being thrown out on the road. She died on December 29, 2012 at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora commenced the hearing on Delhi government's plea seeking issuance of death warrants for executing the convicts just after the apex court verdict, and said that it will wait for the copy of the judgement. "Let order of Supreme Court be officially communicated".
The court adjourned the hearing for January 7.
The lawyer appearing for Nirbhaya's mother said that there was no impediment in issuing death warrants in the case. Consoling Nirbhaya's crying mother, the judge said, "I have full sympathy with you. I know someone has died but there are their rights too. We are here to listen to you but are also bound by the law."
Crying, she said: "Everywhere we go they (the convicts) say they have legal remedies. What do we have?" On prosecution's repeated request that the court should pass death warrants, the court said, "The 'law of natural justice' says that the convicts are heard, till the time their remedies are available."
After hearing the arguments, the court directed the Tihar authorities to issue fresh notice to the convicts. The Delhi government, meanwhile, filed a fresh application seeking issuance of death warrant against all the four convicts in the case. After the 30-minute hearing, the court, via video conference, informed the convicts about Wednesday's court proceedings. The court was hearing the applications moved by Nirbhaya's parents as well as the prosecution seeking issuance of death warrant against the convict.
"The court can issue death warrant. Nothing prevents court from issuing death warrants," they told the court, maintaining that the convicts were using delay tactics. While the proceedings were underway before the trial court, the counsel for Mukesh Kumar, when contacted, said that the question of mercy petition arises only after availing all the legal remedies.
"There is still a legal remedy of curative petition in the Supreme Court before filing mercy petition to the President. We are examining the option of first filing a curative petition against the apex court order on July 9 last year by which it dismissed his review petition," advocate M L Sharma said.
On July 9 last year, the apex court had dismissed the review pleas filed by the other three convicts -- Mukesh (30), Pawan Gupta (23) and Vinay Sharma (24) -- in the case, saying no grounds have been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict. One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail here. A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term. The top court in its 2017 verdict had upheld the capital punishment awarded to them by the Delhi High Court and the trial court in the case.