New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday refused to set aside the trial court’s order issuing death warrants to the convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case.
The Delhi government had informed the High Court that the four death row convicts cannot be hanged on January 22 as one of the convicts has filed a mercy plea that is pending before President Ram Nath Kovind for consideration. The court has asked Mukesh’s counsel to approach trial court and apprise it about the pending mercy plea.
Mukesh approached the Delhi High Court for quashing of the death warrant. The petition, filed through advocate Vrinda Grover, sought setting aside of the trial court’s order issuing the warrant of execution and direction to authorities to “scrupulously follow timeframes as prescribed by law, rules, and the Supreme Court”. The plea also stated that the convict cannot be executed during the pendency of his mercy petitions before the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi and the President. His lawyers have informed the court they will move sessions court against death warrant.
Justices Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal were told by the Delhi government and the Centre that the petition filed by convict Mukesh, challenging his death warrant, was premature. The Delhi government and the prison authorities informed the court that under the rules, it will have to wait for the mercy plea to be decided before executing the death warrant.
The Delhi High Court expressed displeasure over the manner in which the convicts exploited the government machinery and filed the mercy petition only when a death warrant was issued against them. The accused were convicted and sentenced to death in September 2013. The conviction and sentencing were upheld by both the High Court and Supreme Court.
Mercy plea is the only legal option left before the convicts after the Supreme Court rejected curative petitions of Vinay Sharma and Mukesh. In a separate ruling, the Supreme Court had also dismissed a review petition filed by another convict Akshay Singh, to review its earlier order that confirmed the death penalty in the case.
The 23-year-old paramedic student was gangraped 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.
In September 2013, a fast-track court held the four convicts guilty of 13 offences including gangrape, unnatural sexual assault and murder of the woman, and attempt to murder her male friend. A fifth accused, Ram, hanged himself in his cell in Tihar, while the sixth, who was a juvenile at the time of the crime, was sent to a reform facility.