The Supreme Court on Tuesday adjourned for March 5 the Centre’s plea challenging the Delhi High Court order on February 5, which said that the death warrant of all convicts in the Nirbhaya case should be executed together.
A bench of led by Justice R Banumathi and Justices Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna heard the petition.
The High Court had observed that Delhi prison rules didn’t state that if a mercy petition of one convict is pending, then execution of the other convicts can take place or not and hence ruled that the convicts will be executed together.
Counsel appearing for the Centre said that Delhi’s Patiala House Court had passed order to execute on the convicts on March 3.
Justice Banumathi adjourning the matter said, “Then we will simply adjourn it. We will hear it on March 5 at 3 pm.”
However, there is still no clarity whether the convicts will be hanged on March 3 as no submissions or comments were made in the court regarding the hanging except for the fact that the counsel just appraised the SC about lower courts order.
Delhi’s Patiala House Court on Feb 14 had ordered that all the four death-row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case to be hanged on March 3 at 6 am. Court had issued death warrants for the third time for the hanging of the convicts.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana of Patiala High Court had passed the order on a plea moved by Tihar Jail Authorities for fresh death warrants saying that no legal proceeding by any convict is pending before any court.
Earlier, they were slated to be executed on January 22 which was postponed to February 1, however, a Delhi court on January 31, indefinitely suspended the execution of the convicts, noting that all the convicts had not exhausted their legal remedies.
Pawan 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.
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.