Thursday, February 2, 2023

Nirbhaya case: Delhi HC notice to convicts, jail authorities on Centre’s plea against stay on hanging

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The Delhi High Court on Saturday issued notice to the four Nirbhaya case death-row convicts and Tihar jail authorities on the Centre’s plea, challenging the stay granted by a sessions court on the execution of the condemned prisoners.

A single-judge bench of Justice Suresh Kait decided to hear the case on Sunday.

Besides the jail authorities and the convicts, the court also issued notice to the Director General (Prisons).

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Centre, submitted that the condemned prisoners — Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Pawan Gupta – were taking the process of law for a “joyride” and adopting tactics to delay the execution of the sentence.

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

On Friday, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana postponed the hanging of the four condemned 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.

Advocate AP Singh, who represented Pawan Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma and Akshay Kumar. had urged the court yesterday to adjourn the executions “sine die” (indefinitely) as legal remedies of some of the convicts were yet to be availed.

During the hearing, public prosecutor Irfan Ahmed, appearing for the jail authorities, had challenged the maintainability of the application seeking a stay order.

He had submitted that there was no illegality in hanging the convicts separately.

Vrinda Grover, who was appointed as amicus curiae to assist the court in the case, had said 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 informed the court 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 paramedical student’s family, had questioned the locus standi of Grover.

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