NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Sunday reserved its verdict on the Centre's plea challenging stay on the execution of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case.
Convicts Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Mukesh Singh and Akshay Singh were to be executed on Saturday last. But it was postponed indefinitely after one of the convicts, Vinay Sharma, filed a mercy petition before President Ram Nath Kovind. As his appeal was turned down, another convict, Akshay Singh, filed his mercy plea.
Prison rules stipulate that a convict gets 14 days between the rejection of a mercy plea and his execution.
In a special hearing on Sunday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told Justice Suresh Kait that in the interest of the society and the victim, there can be no delay in the execution. Even in the interest of the convict, any delay will have a dehumanising effect. Advocate A P Singh appearing for Akshay, Vinay and Pawan, questioned the haste. “Why only in this case there is a hurry? Justice hurried is justice buried.”
Mehta said there was a deliberate, calculated and well thought of design to frustrate mandate of law. “The accused are trying the patience of the nation. Such delays will shake the faith of people in the administration of justice,” Mehta told the court. Senior advocate Rebecca John, representing Mukesh, raised preliminary objection on the Centre’s plea saying it was not maintainable. She contended that the Centre was never a party in the case proceedings before the trial court and that it has woken up just two days ago. “At no point the central or the state government approached the trial court to immediately issue death warrants,” John contended.
Nirbhaya convicts acting in tandem: Centre to HC
Accusing the convicts of acting in tandem to frustrate the very objective of the punishment, Centre on Sunday told the Delhi High Court that the convicts in the case are filing all kinds of appeals in courts but not the mercy petition.Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told Justice Suresh Kait, “Mukesh has filed almost his seventh legal proceeding on January 31. Till that point, he had still not filed his mercy plea. This is to deliberately delay the execution.” Mehta went on to explain how much time each convict in the case has taken in exercising their legal remedies.Countering Centre’s stand, senior advocate Rebecca John appearing on behalf of Mukesh Singh said, “I am standing here today because even death row convicts of heinous crimes are entitled to their rights.
The convicts are under no constitutional obligation to hasten the proceedings. You can’t condemn me for using legal remedies.”“Even the convicts have constitutional rights and we are only exercising them, why did Centre wake up only yesterday (Saturday) what were they doing earlier. Can the convicts be hanged separately by common sentencing order? Trial court has passed the common sentence order it means common execution. There must be affirmative powers to execute me separately which prison rules don’t allow. Bifurcation is not permissible,” John argued while questioning the haste in which Centre has approached the high court challenging the trial court order.
The Delhi Jail Manual Rule 14(2) makes it clear that multiple convicts in the same crime cannot be hanged before each one of them has exhausted all legal options, including filing mercy petitions before the President. The four convicts, along with two others had gang-raped the young woman in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012.