Mukesh and Pawan moved the Supreme Court today challenging the Delhi High Court verdict

The Supreme Court on Saturday stayed till March 31 the execution of death penalty of two of the four convicts in the December 16 gang-rape and murder case, a couple of days after the Delhi High Court upheld their punishment awarded by the trial court.

“We stay the execution of Mukesh and Pawan till March 31, 2014,” a bench comprising Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Shiva Kirti Singh said in an urgent hearing on a holiday.

The Bench, which considered the plea of Mukesh and Pawan Gupta, asked its Registry to “forthwith” communicate its order to the Tihar Jail authorities.

“We direct the Registry to communicate the order to the prison authorities forthwith,” it said and directed the Registry to place the matter before the Chief Justice of India within eight days for allocating it to the appropriate Bench.

The petition seeking a stay of the execution of death sentence was moved by advocate M. L. Sharma.

When the Bench wanted to know whether he was appearing for all the four convicts, Mr. Sharma said he was representing only Mukesh and Pawan.

Besides Mukesh (27) and Pawan (20), the High Court had also upheld the conviction and death penalty of Akshay Thakur (29) and Vinay Sharma (21).

While dismissing their appeals, the High Court had termed the offence as “extremely fiendish” and “unparalleled in the history of criminal jurisprudence” and said the “exemplary punishment” was the need of the hour.It also said if this case was not “the rarest of rare cases” then “there is likely to be none”.

The 23-year-old paramedic, on the fateful night of December 16, 2012, was brutally assaulted and gang-raped by six persons in a moving bus in South Delhi and thrown out of the vehicle with her male friend. She died in a Singapore hospital on December 29.

Prime accused in the case Ram Singh was found dead in Tihar Jail in March last year and the trial against him was abated.

The sixth accused, the juvenile was on August 31, 2013, convicted and sentenced to a maximum of three years in a reformation home by the Juvenile Justice Board.

Mukesh and Pawan in their appeal submitted that they were denied a fair trial due to public and political pressure and that they were not allowed to take the service of the lawyers of their choice.

“To satisfy political scenario and personal sympathy as the victim is a girl does not take away right of a fair trial which has been denied and the real accused has been left free for ever, which is evident from the records itself,” the petition said.

They further contended the trial in the case was started on January 21, 2013, under public/political pressure, contrary to the legal provisions with sole object to hang them and other accused persons.“There are glaring evidence for miscarriage of justice on records for procuring false statement under torture by the prosecution,” the petition submitted.

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