Nirbhaya case: The agony continues

The delay in execution of the death sentence in Nirbhaya case is attributed to the many safeguards bestowed upon a convict before he faces the noose.

SC to hear Centre’s plea against Delhi HC verdict on February 11

The Supreme Court on Friday said it will hear on February 11 the Centre’s plea challenging the Delhi High Court’s verdict that had dismissed its petition against the stay on execution of the four Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case convicts.

A bench headed by Justice R Bhanumathi did not heed to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s request to issue notices to the convicts on the Centre’s plea and said it would further delay the matter.

The bench, also comprising justices Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna, told Mehta that it would hear him on February 11 and it may consider whether notice was required to be issued to the convicts.

At the outset, Mehta told the court that the “nation’s patience is being tested” in the matter and the bench will have to lay down a law on the issue.

Mehta told the bench that one of the convicts Mukesh Kumar Singh has exhausted all his remedies, including mercy plea and the challenge to its rejection in the apex court.

The mercy pleas of Akshay Kumar and Vinay Kumar Sharma have already been dismissed, he said, adding that the fourth convict Pawan Gupta has neither filed a curative petition nor a mercy plea.

“Pawan has chosen not to file a curative or a mercy petition. The question is, is the authority required to wait endlessly,” Mehta told the bench.

To this, the bench said, “No one can be compelled to take remedies.”

Mehta said in this case there may be a situation where one convict “sits tight for five years” and the others then approach the apex court seeking commutation of death penalty on the ground of delay in execution.

“The high court has granted them (convicts) one week time to avail all their remedies. This amply protects you,” the bench said.

Mehta said the bench will have to lay down the law on whether the convicts in a same case can be hanged separately or not.

When the bench said it would hear the matter on February 11, he requested the court to issue notice to the four death row convicts.

“Let them come to this court on Monday and say what they intend to do,” Mehta said.

“Issuance of notice will not harm them. The high court had also issued notices to them. The court can have the benefit of their assistance on the issue. As an institution we are answerable to the society,” he said.

To this, the bench said issuing notices to the convicts at this stage will further delay the matter.

“We want to hear you on merits,” the bench told Mehta and said it may consider this aspect on the next date of hearing.

The Centre, through its Additional Solicitor General K M Natraj, had moved the top court seeking an urgent hearing on its appeal assailing the verdict which held on Wednesday that the death row convicts have to be executed together and not separately.

Natraj had 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 curative petitions and mercy pleas of three of them have been rejected.

The high court set a week’s deadline for them to avail the remaining remedies.

If the convicts choose not to make any type of petition in seven days from now, the institutions and authorities concerned will deal with the matter, as per the law, without further delay, it had said.

Meanwhile, the trial court will hear on Friday a plea of Tihar jail authorities seeking issuance of fresh death warrants against the convicts.

The trial court had on January 31 stayed “till further orders” execution of the four convicts in the case — Mukesh (32), Pawan (25), Vinay (26) and Akshay (31), who are lodged in Tihar Jail.

Tihar plea to hang convicts rejected

A request by the Tihar Jail authorities seeking fresh warrants to hang all the four convicts were rejected by a court in Delhi today.

The Delhi High Court on February 5 allowed the convicts a week to look exercise any legal option left with them.

“I concur with the argument of advocate Vrinda Grover and dismiss the application of Tihar Jail as bereft of merit,” the judge at Delhi’s Patiala House court said today.

The Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday the central and the Delhi government’s request for separate hanging of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case.

The government had challenged the Delhi High Court verdict dismissing its plea against the stay on the execution of the four men.

Delay sends wrong message

Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi on Friday expressed disappointment over postponing the execution of death warrants of the convicts and said the delay is sending a wrong message.