SC to examine if death-row convicts in same case can be hanged separately


File photo - Supreme Court of India

File photo – Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would hear on March 23 the appeal filed by the Centre challenging the Delhi High Court order that the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case have to be executed simultaneously.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench, headed by Justice R Banumathi, that the trial court has fixed March 20 as date of execution of the four convicts who have exhausted all their legal remedies.

Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, that these convicts have made a mockery of the system by their delaying tactics and taken it for a ride.

The bench said it would hear the matter on merits on March 23 and made it clear that no adjournments will be granted.

The execution of their death warrants has been deferred thrice so far due to delays by them in exhausting legal remedies.

The Delhi High Court verdict held that the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya case have to be executed together and not separately.

It had also faulted the authorities concerned for not taking steps for issuance of death warrant after the rejection of appeals of the accused by the Supreme Court in 2017.

The trial court on Thursday issued fresh date, March 20 at 5.30 am, for the execution of the four convicts — Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh(31) — in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case.

The Delhi government had on Wednesday moved the 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 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.