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President rejects mercy petition of third Nirbhaya convict Akshay Thakur

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President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday rejected the mercy petition of Akshay Singh Thakur, one of the convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case. Thakur had filed the mercy plea on Saturday.

Thakur is the third death row convict whose mercy petition has been rejected. Earlier, President had rejected the mercy pleas of Mukesh Kumar and Vinay Sharma. Pawan Gupta, the fourth and last convict in the case, is yet to file his mercy plea.

Under Article 72, the President can grant a pardon or reduce the sentence of a convicted person, particularly in cases involving capital punishment.

The Delhi High Court today directed the Nirbhaya convicts, waiting on death row, to file any application they want within a week after which authorities should act.

On a cold December night in 2012, a 23-year-old paramedical student was raped by six men on a moving bus. After they were done, she was dumped on the road to die. After weeks at India’s top medical facility, the AIIMS, and a Singapore hospital where she was airlifted for treatment, she died on December 29.

Her death had triggered nationwide protests demanding justice for her and changes in law to ensure the safety of women.

While one of her rapists, Ram Singh, was found hanging in Delhi’s Tihar jail during trial, the youngest and the most brutal of the group, who was just short of 18 when the crime was committed, was released after three years at a reform home.

The convicts have so far managed to delay their execution, first slated for January 22 this year, by filing mercy petitions one after another. All four were to hang this morning, but just hours before a Delhi court deferred their execution till further orders as Sharma’s plea was pending before the President.

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