Published On : Fri, Jan 31st, 2020

Nirbhaya convicts’ hanging stayed

SC junks Pawan’s review plea

Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana passed the order on the plea by the convicts seeking adjournment of the executions ‘sine die’ (with no appointed date for resumption).

Mukesh Kumar Singh, 32, Pawan Gupta, 25, Vinay Kumar Sharma, 26, and Akshay Kumar, 31, were scheduled to be hanged on February 1 at 6 am.

This is for the second time that the execution of the death warrants has been deferred.

The first order for execution of death sentence, issued on January 7 for January 22, was stayed on January 17. The second warrant, issued on January 17, for February 1 was stayed on Friday.

Advocate A P Singh, the counsel for the three convicts — Pawan, Vinay and Akshay — had urged the court to adjourn the matter ‘sine die’ saying their legal remedies were yet to be exhausted.

The Tihar jail authorities had challenged their application saying it was not maintainable and the death row convicts can be hanged separately.

However, the argument of the Tihar jail authorities was not accepted by the court. The convicts’ lawyer had argued that rules dictate that when one convict’s plea is pending the others cannot be hanged.

In the order, the judge noted that if an appeal or an application is made by only one convict, the execution of sentence shall be postponed in the case of co-convicts also.

The judge said, “Without commenting upon the dilatory tactics adopted by the convicts, suffice it would be to state that seeking redressal of one’s grievances through procedure established by law is the hallmark of any civilised society.

“The courts of this country cannot afford to adversely discriminate any convict, including death row convict, in pursuit of his legal remedies, by turning a Nelson’s eye towards him.”

“As a cumulative effect of the aforesaid discussion, I am of the considered opinion that the execution of warrants issued by this court vide order dates January 17, 2020 deserves to be postponed till further orders,” the judge said.

The court said a copy of this order be given to the counsel for convicts and the jail officials present in the court.

“The jail superintendent is directed to file the compliance report by tomorrow,” it said.

Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi on Friday said she will continue her fight till the convicts in the 2012 gang rape and murder case are hanged, shortly after a Delhi court postponed the execution of death warrants till further order.

Devi told reporters her ‘hopes are dashed’ but she will continue her fight till the convicts are hanged.

“These convicts have no right to live. We keep getting disappointed by the system. I will continue my fight till the convicts are hanged,” she said.

Vinay’s mercy plea before the president is pending. Mukesh’s mercy plea was dismissed by President Ram Nath Kovind on January 17.

The appeal against the rejection was thrown out by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The curative petitions of Vinay and Akshay have been rejected by the apex court.

Pawan is the only one yet not to file a curative plea. Convicts have the option of moving a mercy petition before the president only after the apex court dismisses their curative plea.

Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court dismissed Pawan’s plea seeking review of the decision by which his application claiming to be a juvenile at the time of the commission of offence was rejected.

The review plea filed earlier in the day was taken up for consideration in-chamber by a bench comprising Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna, which dismissed it.

Pawan, through his counsel A P Singh, had moved the apex court seeking review of its January 20 verdict rejecting his plea in which he had claimed to be a juvenile at the time of commission of the offence.

While dismissing his appeal on January 20, the top court had said there was no ground to interfere with the Delhi high court order that rejected Pawan’s similar plea.

The apex court had said that the convict’s claim was rightly rejected by the trial court as also the high court.

It had said the matter was raised earlier in the review plea before the apex court which rejected claim of juvenility taken by Pawan and another convict Vinay Kumar Sharma and that order has attained finality.

Pawan’s counsel had earlier argued that as per his school leaving certificate, he was a minor at the time of the offence.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Delhi Police, had said Pawan’s claim of juvenility was considered at each and every judicial forum and it will be a travesty of justice if the convict is allowed to raise the claim of juvenility repeatedly and at this point of time.

A 23-year-old paramedic student, referred to as Nirbhaya, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012, in a moving bus in south Delhi by six people before she was thrown out on the road.

One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail in 2013.

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.