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President Ram Nath Kovind today rejected the mercy plea of Nirbhaya case convict, Mukesh Singh, hours after the Union home ministry forwarded it to the President with the recommendation to turn down the petition.

The President’s decision exhausts all the possibilities of Mukesh Singh escaping the gallows.

Later, the ministry wrote to the Delhi government, conveying that the President in exercise of the powers under Article 72 of the Constitution has rejected the mercy plea of Mukesh Singh, who is now lodged in a special cell in the national capital’s Tihar jail.

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

Read also: What is mercy petition? What are pardoning powers of President and Governor?

A Delhi court had yesterday made it clear that the scheduled execution of the the convicts – Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Singh and Pawan Gupta – could not be carried out January 22, 2020.

Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora had said there were five days left for the date fixed earlier and even if the mercy plea is rejected by the President, the jail manual mandates 14 days’ time to be given to a condemned prisoner before the hanging. Therefore, a new date may be sought.

He had directed the Tihar jail authorities to file a report about the status of the scheduled execution of the convicts.

Besides Mukesh Singh, the three other convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case are also lodged in special cells in the jail and are under watch.

The Delhi government had earlier rejected the mercy plea of Mukesh Singh. The mercy plea was then sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs the office of Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who accepted the recommendation of the city government.

All the four convicts were to be hanged at 7 am on January 22.

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