Saturday, November 26, 2022

Nirbhaya case: Delhi court reserves order on convicts’ plea seeking sine die stay on execution

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A Delhi court today reserved its order on a plea moved by convicts seeking a stay on the date of execution of Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder convicts. The operative part of the order will be dictated in an hour.

The court concluded its hearing on the plea filed by three of the Nirbhaya case convicts. The plea was filed on behalf of three of the convicts to seek a stay on their execution which is scheduled for Saturday morning. Public prosecutor Irfan Ahmed represented the Tihar Jail authorities in the case.

Advocate AP Singh, representing three death row convicts — Pawan Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma and Akshay Kumar — urged the court to adjourn the executions “sine die” as legal remedies of some of the convicts are yet to be availed and also no one can contemplate as to when the President would decide on the mercy plea.

During the hearing, Ahmed challenged the maintainability of the application seeking a stay order. He said, “Only one convict’s (Vinay Sharma) mercy plea is pending and that others can be sent to the gallows without any delay.” He added that there is no illegality in hanging the convicts separately.

AP Singh argues that the convicts can’t be hanged until their mercy plea is rejected by the President. Therefore, the scheduled day of execution should be postponed.

Vrinda Grover, who was appointed as amicus curiae to assist the court in the case, clarified that she has ensured that all the legal remedies available to the convicts are availed without wasting court’s time.

Grover informed the court that the execution of all the convicts have to be postponed even if the mercy petition of a single convict is pending.

“The sentence is a common sentence, the death warrant is a common warrant. Therefore, these convicts can’t be executed separately as there can’t be a severance of the sentence,” Grover submitted.

“Death Penalty is an irreversible process. It would be a travesty of justice if the convicts are segregated in terms of sentence for the very same offence”, Vrinda Grover informed the court.

She further argued that no one can speculate as to when and what the President would decide. “We have to wait till all the mercy pleas are decided, then only convicts can only be executed following the due process,” said Grover.

To support her argument, she cited guidelines issued by the Home Ministry that a condemned prisoner can move a fresh plea before the President to reconsider the order on mercy, in case there’s a subsequent development which warrants mercy.

Seema Kushwaha representing the paramedic student, questioned the locus standi of Vrinda Grover. She asked whether Grover was appearing as amicus curiae or as Mukesh’s lawyer.  “Grover is not acting as a ‘friend of the court’ (amicus curiae), as she’s being partial towards the convicts,” said Kushwaha.

The trial court on January 17 had issued death warrants for the second time for the execution of all the four convicts in the case — Mukesh (32), Pawan (25), Vinay (26) and Akshay (31) — in Tihar jail at 6 am on February 1.

On December 16, 2012, a paramedical student was gang-raped in a moving bus by six men in Delhi. The student died at a Singapore hospital where she was airlifted for treatment. One of the key accused, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail during the pendency of the case, while the sixth was a minor at the time of the commission of the crime and was let out after serving a three-year remand in a juvenile justice home.

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