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‘Nirbhaya’ Case Convicts to be hanged tomorrow at 5:30 AM

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Patiala House Court today dismissed the plea filed by death row convicts in the Nirbhaya Case, seeking stay on the execution of their death sentence.

An application was moved in the Patiala House Court by Advocate A. P. Singh on behalf of Death Row Convicts in the Nirbhaya Case seeking stay of the execution of the death sentence that is scheduled to be executed at 5:30 a.m. on 20th March 2020.

The stay on the execution of the death sentence was asked on the ground of multiple petitions still being pending before different Courts, including a petition against the death sentence before the International Court of Justice in Hague. For one of the convicts Pawan Gupta, a second review mercy petition before the President of India, a curative petition before the Supreme Court of India, a Criminal Complaint Case before the Karkardooma Court, a petition before the National Human Rights Commission, a criminal appeal before the Delhi High Court, is still pending consideration.

For the second accused Akshay Singh, his divorce petition before the District Court in Bihar and review mercy petition before President of India is still pending consideration.

The Counsel on behalf of the convicts used these pending petitions as a ground to ask for stay on the death sentence under Rule 836 and 838 of the Delhi Prison Rules contending that during pendency of any appeal or application, death sentence cannot be carried into effect against any death row convicts. He also contended that an adjournment on the proceedings and stay on the death sentence should be given considering the current situation due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The counsel on behalf of the state questions the maintainability of the current petition stated that an “appeal or application” under Rule 836 and 838 of the Delhi prison rules has a limited scope, and can only be extended to appeal or application for Special Leave to Appeal before the Supreme Court. He contended that the convicts are deliberately using these petitions as delaying tactics.

The Court today, presided over by Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana stated that Rule 836 of the Delhi Prison Rules to delay execution of death sentence will only come into picture when the first mercy petition is pending and not on every subsequent mercy petition. The mercy petitions of the convicts have already been rejected by President of India and the writ petitions filed against the rejections by two convicts have also been dismissed by the Supreme Court. The two convicts Pawan and Akshay however did not challenge the rejection of their mercy petitions. The Convicts have already exhausted the remedies available to them under Article 72 and 161 of the Constitution.

Rule 836 is allowed to stay execution of death sentence in such a case, death sentence would never be executed as a convict would move a fresh mercy petition on dismissal of every mercy petition.

Court also stated that the word “ appeal and application” under the Delhi Prison Rules  will only include statutory  appeal or special leave to appeal under the provisions of Indian Constitution and cannot include any other petition pending before Supreme Court of India.

Court also refused to stay the execution of death sentence on the ground that one convict Pawan has yet not filed a mercy petition under Article 72 of the Indian Constitution, because even after being fully aware of his rights, he opted not to avail the remedy available to him under the law.

-Srishti Ojha

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