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Nirbhaya: Supreme Court to hear tomorrow Centre’s appeal challenging stay on convicts’ hanging

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The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear on Friday the Delhi government and Centre’s appeal challenging the Delhi High Court’s verdict dismissing their plea against stay on the execution of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case.

Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj mentioned the matter for urgent listing before a three-judge bench headed by Justice Ramana and comprising justices NV Ramana, Sanjiv Khanna and Krishna Murari.

ASG submitted that the convict Akshay’s mercy has been rejected by the President yesterday. Nataraj told the court that jail authorities are unable to execute the convicts in the case, despite the fact that their review petitions have been dismissed and exhausting all the legal remedies.

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 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.

In effect, the high court set a week’s timeframe for the condemned prisoners — Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta –- to exhaust all their legal remedies.

Justice Kait said since their fate has been decided by one order, it must be executed with regard to all convicts together.

The judge also noted that the convicts have inordinately delayed filing their applications after they were sentenced to death, with Akshay moving his review plea after more than 900 days.

The court had on Sunday reserved its order at a special hearing after both the parties concluded their arguments on the revision application of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the city government to set aside the stay order of the execution.

Earlier, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Centre, had submitted that the convicts were taking the process of law for a “joyride” and adopting tactics to delay the execution of the sentence.

He had said the convicts of a heinous crime were trying the patience of the country.

On Friday, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana had postponed the hanging of the four prisoners till further orders in the gang-rape and murder case.

“Without commenting upon the dilatory tactics adopted by the convicts, suffice it would be to state that seeking redressal of one’s grievances through procedure established by law is the hallmark of any civilized society,” the judge had said.

On January 22, a Delhi sessions court had issued black warrants for the hanging of the convicts on February 1.

Vrinda Grover, who was appointed as amicus curiae to assist the court in the case, had told the high court that she has ensured that all the legal remedies available to the convicts are availed without any undue wastage of court’s time.

The lawyer had said 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 had 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,” she had contended.

Seema Kushwaha, representing the victim paramedic student’s family, had questioned the locus standi of Grover.

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