A Delhi court directed on Thursday that the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case “be hanged by the neck until they are dead on March 20 at 5:30 am”.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana issued a fresh date for execution after being informed by the Delhi government that the convicts have exhausted all their legal remedies.
This is the fourth time that death warrants have been issued as the earlier three had to defer pending the exhaustion of legal remedies by the convicts.
The death row convicts are Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31).
Their lawyer conceded before the court that there was no legal impediment for it in proceeding to fix the date of execution.
In its order, the court said: “It is fairly conceded at bar by counsel of convict as well as public prosecutor (appearing for the State) that as of now, there is statuary no bar in exercise of power under 413/414 (issuing death warrant) of the CrPC, rather it is obligatory on the part of the court to discharge the duties cast upon it under the relevant provisions.
“In view of the same, it is directed that convicts shall be hanged by the neck until they are dead on March 20 at 6 am.”
During the hearing, advocate AP Singh, appearing for Akshay, Vinay and Pawan, told the court that he would be meeting Pawan in jail and, thereafter, would exercise his legal remedies against the rejection of his mercy petition.
The jail official said that there was no official communication.
“As far as legal remedies are concerned, they have all been exhausted. The writ plea against the rejection of mercy petition is not a legal remedy,” the prosecutor representing the jail said.
The Delhi government had on Wednesday moved court seeking fresh date for the execution hours after President Ram Nath Kovind rejected the mercy petition of Pawan.
The Delhi government had told the court that all legal remedies of the convicts have been exhausted and nothing survives now.
The lawyer for the prosecution also said no notice was required.
The court had on Monday deferred till further order the hanging of the convicts that was scheduled for Tuesday.
The execution of their death warrants has been deferred thrice so far due to delays by them in exhausting legal remedies. All the convicts in the case are to be hanged together.
The President had already rejected the mercy petitions of Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay.
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 had 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 Tihar jail days after the trial began in the case.
The juvenile was released in 2015 after spending three years in a correctional home.