The Delhi High Court has ruled that the convicts in Nirbhaya gangrape-and-murder can't be hanged separately (Photo Credit: Composite Image)
The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear on Friday the Centre's appeal challenging the Delhi High Court's verdict dismissing its plea against stay on the execution of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case. Additional Solicitor General K M Natraj, appearing for the Centre, mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a bench comprising justices N V Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari. Natraj told the court that jail authorities are unable to execute the convicts in the case despite the fact that their review petitions have been dismissed and curative petitions and mercy pleas of three of them rejected.
The central government had moved the Supreme Court against the judgement of the Delhi High Court giving seven days to Nirbhaya gangrape convicts to exhaust legal options against their hanging. The high court had also ruled that the convicts can't be hanged separately. Along with the Centre, the National Capital Territory of Delhi has filed a Special Leave Petition against the judgment.
On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court, while pronouncing order on the Centre's plea challenging stay on execution of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, had said the prison rules do not state that if mercy petition of one convict is pending, the execution of the other convicts can take place.
"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. Justice Suresh Kumar Kait had on February 2 reserved order on the Centre's plea after holding special hearing on Saturday and Sunday.
The Centre and the Delhi government had also challenged the trial court's January 31 order staying "till further orders" the execution of all the four convicts in the case -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31), who are lodged in Tihar Jail.
A 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was 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 in Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital.
One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail. 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 the convicts by the Delhi High Court and the trial court.