NEW DELHI: Seven years after the 23-year-old Nirbhaya was raped and brutalised, a Delhi court on Tuesday issued death warrant for the four convict — Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma, and Mukesh Singh.
They are now scheduled to be hanged at 7 am on January 22.
However, the four convicts are yet to exhaust all the legal remedies.
The convicts may move the Supreme Court with a curative petition and the President with a mercy plea to have their death sentence commuted to life imprisonment.
The warrant by Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora was issued after hearing the convicts via video conferencing from Tihar jail.
Last month, the supreme court had informed last month that the review petitions by all four had been dismissed.
The top court had upheld death penalty for the convicts in 2017. While the review petitions filed by Pawan, Vinay and Mukesh were rejected in July 2018, Akshay’s, filed in December last year, was turned down the same month.
Under the law, death warrant proceedings take place after the person on death row has exhausted all legal remedies available — a review against the SC verdict, a subsequent curative petition if the plea is rejected, and a mercy plea before the President of India.
The hearing on the death warrant comes as the court hears a petition filed by Nirbhaya’s parents to expedite the execution of the convicts.
While urging the court to issue the death warrants, the prosecution said, “In between issuance and execution of death warrants of the convicts want to file curative petitions they can do so.”
The counsel for two of the convicts — Mukesh and Vinay — said they were in process of filing curative petition in the apex court.
When the hearing commenced, advocate M L Sharma appeared before the court and said that he was representing Mukesh.
However, amicus curiae Vrinda Grover, who on the last date was appointed by the court to represent Mukesh, said Sharma had no authority to represent him.
The court heard the arguments from both of them and directed Sharma to produce Vakalatnama (document empowering lawyer) showing that Mukesh authorised him.
After the court reserved the order for 3.30 pm on the issuance of death warrants, Mukesh's mother entered the courtroom crying and urged the court to show mercy.
The court refused to entertain her.
Talking to media persons outside the courtroom, she said her son was framed because he was poor.
The court interacted with all the convicts through video conferencing from Tihar jail.
The media was not allowed inside the video conferencing room.
After the court passed the order, the lawyers and family members of the convicts came out and informed the media about the court's order.
Victim's parents said they were satisfied with the order.
Nirbhaya was gang-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, at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.
On July 9 last year, the apex court had dismissed the review pleas filed by the other three convicts in the case, saying no grounds have been made out by them for review of the 2017 verdict.
One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail here.
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 them by the Delhi High Court and the trial court.
Convicts to be executed in Jail No 3; Tihar to approach Meerut hangman
The four convicts in the Nirbhaya case will be executed in Jail No 3, a senior Tihar Jail official said on Tuesday, hours after a Delhi court issued death warrants against them and declared that they will be hanged at 7 am on January 22.
Three of the convicts are lodged in Jail No 2, while one is in Jail No 4, the official said.
Sources said the jail authorities will approach a hangman in Meerut to carry out the execution.
(With PTI Inputs)