The Supreme Court on Thursday adjourned for tomorrow the hearing of the Centre’s plea for separate execution of the four Nirbhaya case condemned prisoners even as it appointed lawyer Anjana Prakash as amicus curiae for convict Pawan Gupta.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna also asked the convicts to file their response by tomorrow on the petition.
The name of Prakash, a former judge of the Patna High Court, was suggested by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to represent Gupta.
Gupta is the only convict who has not yet filed a curative petition, the last legal remedy available to a person which is decided in-chambers. He also has the option of filing a mercy plea.
The Centre and Delhi government had moved the apex court against a Delhi High Court order holding that the prisoners could not be hanged separately.
The bench also reserved for tomorrow its order against on convict Vinay Sharma’s plea against the rejection of his mercy petition by the President.
Lawyer Vrinda Grover, appearing for convict Mukesh Kumar Singh, informed the court about the applications moved by Tihar Jail authorities and Nirbhaya’s parents seeking a fresh date for the execution of the sentence.
She pleaded to the court to extend legal aide to convict Gupta, saying counsel AP Singh would no longer appear for him.
The apex court had on Tuesday sought the response of the prisoners on the Centre’s appeal against the high court verdict which dismissed its plea against stay on their execution.
One week’s time given by the high court to the convicts to exhaust their legal remedies, expired on Tuesday.
Justices Bhanumathi, Bhushan and Bopanna had also granted liberty to the authorities to move the trial court for issuance of fresh date for the execution of the convicts.
The bench had made it clear that 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 date of hanging.
Solicitor General Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the Delhi government, had said that the execution of “is not for enjoyment ” and the authorities were only executing the mandate of the law.
“The nation’s patience is being tested,” Mehta had submitted, while claiming efforts were being made by the convicts to delay the execution of the sentence.
On January 31, the trial court had stayed “till further orders” the execution of the four convicts — Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31), who are lodged in Delhi’s Tihar jail.
A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as ”Nirbhaya”, was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.
Six people, including the four convicts, Ram Singh and a juvenile — were named as accused.
Ram Singh, the prime accused, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in Tihar jail days after the trial began. The juvenile, who was said to be the most brutal of the attackers, was put in a correctional home for three years.
The juvenile was released in 2015 and sent to an undisclosed location amid concerns over a threat to his life. He, when released, was 20 years old.
The trial of the four adults began in a special fast-track court in March 2013 and they were sentenced to death in September that year.