The Supreme Court on Saturday night stayed the execution of eight death row convicts whose mercy petitions were rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee earlier this week.

A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and M.Y. Eqbal stayed the execution after hearing senior counsel Colin Gonsalves appearing for the convicts, who filed petitions challenging the rejection of their mercy petitions.

The convicts are: Suresh, Ramji and Gurmeet Singh in Naini Central Prison, Allahabad; Praveen Kumar in Belgaum prison in Karnataka; Sonia, daughter of the former Haryana MLA, Ralu Ram Punia, and her husband Sanjeev in Ambala Central Prison in Haryana; Sundar Singh in Nainital, Uttaranchal and Jaffer Ali serving the sentence in a jail in Uttar Pradesh.

Sonia and Sanjeev were convicted in 2007 of killing eight members of her family, including her father, over a property dispute in 2001. Gurmeet Singh was convicted of killing 13 of his family members in 1986. Jaffer Ali murdered his wife and five daughters. Suresh and Ramji killed five of their relatives.

In a brief order, the Bench said: “There shall be stay of execution of the death sentence in respect of the eight petitioners. Notice to the States concerned returnable in four weeks.”

The petitioners apprehended that they would be executed following the rejection of their mercy petitions. In particular, the convict in Nainital jail feared that he would be executed on Sunday morning.