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The Supreme Court on Thursday while hearing Centre’s plea challenging Delhi HC order holding that Nirbhaya case’s convicts could not be executed separately, adjourned the matter for final hearing on February 14 at 2pm.

Advocate Vrinda Grover appearing for one of the convict Mukesh informed the Court about the applications by Tihar Jail authorities and Nirbhaya’s parents seeking a date for execution of death warrant in Patiala House District Court.

Informing the bench that Counsel AP Singh would no longer appear for convict Pawan, Grover requested the court to provide for legal aid and avoid any further delay as the pleas will be heard later in the day.

Court issued notice to two convicts Vinay and Akshay and suggested appointing an Amicus for convict Pawan.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta stated that it was not anticipated that the convict’s counsel would change, suggesting senior counsel Anjana Prakash’s name.

SC had sought response on Tuesday from the four death row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case on the Centre’s appeal challenging the Delhi High Court verdict which dismissed its plea against stay on their execution.

One weeks time given by Delhi High Court to convicts to exhaust their legal remedy has already expired on Tuesday.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice R Bhanumathi and comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna had granted liberty to the authorities to move the trial court for issuance of fresh date for the execution of these convicts.

The bench made it clear the pendency of the appeal filed by the Centre and Delhi government before it would not be an impediment for the trial court in issuing fresh death of execution.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the Delhi government had said that the execution of these convicts is not for “enjoyment ” and the authorities are only executing the mandate of the law.

Last week when the Supreme Court had adjourned the hearing, Mehta, asked the court to decide whether authorities be told to wait for all the convicts to exhaust their remedies, especially since Pawan has not filed anything since 2018 when his review was rejected. “The nation’s patience is being tested,” said Mehta.

However, the court had said that a convict cannot be compelled to exercise their legal remedies.

The government had urged the bench to serve notices to the four convicts, but the bench did not heed to the government’s request, saying it would further delay the matter. “Let the one week time be over. Maybe all options will be exhausted by then. We’ll consider it then,” said Justice Bhushan.

The pendency of a mercy petition cannot be a reason to defer the executions of other convicts in the same case, whose legal remedies have been exhausted, argued the Solicitor General.

“The case involves a point of law which is not yet clear. The law must be settled authoritatively,” said Mehta.

The appeal was filed shortly after the high court directed the convicts, waiting on death row, to file any application they want within a week after which authorities should act.

In his order, Justice Suresh Kait of the High Court had refused to set aside the trial court’s stay on the execution of the death warrant, reiterating that under the law, co-convicts cannot be executed on separate dates.

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