Nirbhaya case: 3 death row convicts move Delhi HC for stay on execution, hearing shortly (Photo Credit: File Image)
New Delhi :
All the four convicts of Nirbhaya gangrape and murder will be hanged till death in Tihar Jail at 5.30 am Friday. The convicts — Mukesh (31), Pawan Gupta (24), Vinay Sharma (25) and Akshay Kumar Singh (33) — will be executed after their death warrants were deferred thrice since January as they used all their legal options. Earlier today, three of the four death-row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case moved the Delhi High Court challenging the trial court order declining to stay their execution scheduled for early morning tomorrow. A bench headed by Justice Manmohan rejected the plea, making the path for the execution clear.
The Delhi High Court on Friday said that the delay in filing mercy plea by the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case shows there is a conspiracy and that someone is playing with the system. A bench comprising justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula said there has been gross delay in filing mercy plea and requested the counsel appearing for the convicts to present a substantial legal point.
The lawyer urged the high court to defer hanging by 3-4 days so that he can address his case. However, the bench said this is the fourth death warrant in the matter and there has already been "gross delay" on the part of the convicts. "You have to make out a case for stay. We cannot grant stay of execution without you making out a good case for it. Such a casual approach by you. "At 11'o clock we are saying please come to the point. You are not coming to the point," the bench said in a late night hearing.
It further added that there was no foundation in the plea requesting the lawyer to put up a substantial legal point. "There is very limited time now, so if you have a legal point come to it. Or you can carry on till the cows come home," the bench said. It asked the convicts' lawyer not to waste time as at 5.30 am the plea would become infructuous. "We are very close to the time when your clients will meet God. Don't waste it," the bench said. When hearing commenced, the bench said the petition on behalf of the three convicts lacked material particulars like affidavits and memo (list) of parties which are essential components of a plea.
The lawyer of the convicts claimed that the material particulars were missing due to paucity of time as he was running from trial court to the Supreme Court and then the high court. To this, the bench said only in India courts are so accessible as the convicts have moved the trial court, Supreme Court and the high court on the same day.
The trial court on Thursday afternoon dismissed the plea of—Akshay Kumar Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma—seeking to stay the death warrants. They, along with Mukesh Singh, are scheduled to be hanged on Friday morning at 5.30 am. The trial court in its order also took note of the considerable time consumed by the judiciary in the case and addressed the doubts that have been lingering in the minds of some people on the efficacy of the rule of law.
The court said the resilience of law signified the inherent safeguards against human errors and not the weakness of law. After the pronouncement of the order, Nirbhaya’s mother said her daughter’s soul will now rest in peace and she had got justice seven years after the gruesome gangrape and murder that shook the nation.
"Finally the convicts will be hanged. Now I will get peace," Asha Devi told PTI. The judge also pulled up one of the convicts for failing to exercise his legal remedy and challenge before the rejection of his mercy plea by the President.
"The condemned convict Pawan cannot be permitted to frustrate the course of law by simply opting to remain indolent. It is not a case wherein the convict is either unaware of his rights or is not able to exercise them for want of legal aid.
"One who seeks protection of law first needs to learn to respect it. Therefore, I do not find any plausible reasons to suspend the execution of death sentence simply because Pawan has opted not to exercise his legal remedy," the judge said.
Advocate A P Singh, appearing for the convicts, also said that Akshay’s wife has filed for a divorce in a city court in Bihar which was pending, to which the special public prosecutor said any other petition does not fall under the purview of legal remedy in the present case.
When the judge was pronouncing the order, Akshay’s wife pleaded to the judge that justice was being denied to her. The judge said, "There is Nirbhaya’s mother. You tell these to her. Order dismissed." On March 5, the court had issued fresh death warrants for March 20 at 5.30 am, as the date for the execution of Mukesh (32), Pawan (25), Vinay (26) and Akshay (31).
High-voltage drama ensued outside the Patiala House Courts complex following the hearing as Akshay’s wife fainted outside and said she and her minor son be hanged too. She has filed a divorce petition saying she did not wish to live with the label of "a rapist’s widow".
"I want justice too. Kill me too. I do not want to live. My husband is innocent. Why is the society after us? We were living with the hope that we will get justice but we are being killed everyday for the last seven years," she said, while crying hysterically outside the court.
Devi, who beat herself with sandals, was consoled by the lawyers present outside the court.
The death warrants were issued for the first time on January 7 and have been deferred four times earlier on the ground that the convicts were yet to exhaust all their legal remedies.
A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’ (fearless), was gang raped and savagely assaulted in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, 2012. She died after a fortnight.
Six people, including the four convicts and a juvenile, were named as accused. Ram Singh, the sixth accused, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail days after the trial began in the case.
The juvenile was released in 2015 after spending three years in a correctional home.