Nirbhaya case: Centre moves Supreme Court against High Court verdict on hanging of convicts

Nirbhaya case victim's mother along with lawyers in New Delhi, on January 7, 2020.

Nirbhaya case victim's mother along with lawyers in New Delhi, on January 7, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The High Court said all the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case have to be executed together, not separately.

The Centre on February 5 appealed to the Supreme Court within hours of the Delhi High Court’s rejection of its plea to separately execute the death sentence of the Nirbhaya gang-rape convicts.

The Centre had challenged a January 31, 2020 decision of the sessions court to postpone the issuance of fresh death warrants against the four convicts, especially Mukesh Kumar Singh, whose mercy petition had already been declined by the President on January 17.

The government has argued in the Supreme Court that under the Delhi Prison Rules of 2018 the pendency of legal remedies or mercy petitions of other co-convicts would have no bearing on the fate of a convict whose plea for mercy has already been rejected.

‘Miscarriage of justice’

The government has argued that the 2018 Rules does not prohibit the execution of death sentence of co-convicts, one by one, on the rejection of their respective mercy petitions.

Deferring the execution of death sentence of all the four convicts, specifically when Mukesh’s mercy plea has already been dismissed by the President, has led to “gross miscarriage of justice” to the victim’s family as well as the society as a whole, the government contended. The convicts, the Centre said, were taking the judicial process for a ride.

The High Court judgment, however, held that the 2018 Rules observe that pendency of any application filed by one convict would necessarily require the postponement of the death sentence of all his co-convicts, even those whose mercy plea had been rejected.


The court said there could not be a situation whereby one convict “swings” and the others’ lives were later spared by the President. Commutation of death penalty of a fellow convict is a ground for filing fresh mercy petition after all, the High Court reasoned. The convicts have to be executed together and not separately, it held. 

7 days’ time

The High Court judge, Justice Suresh Kait, however, gave convicts Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Kumar Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) seven days to exhaust all their available legal remedies. After this, the authorities would act as per rules, the judge said.

On December 16, 2012, Nirbhaya, a paramedical student, was gang-raped and brutally assaulted by six men in a private bus and thrown out of the moving vehicle along with her male friend. The victims later died of their injuries.


The four convicts have since been sentenced to death by a local court. The order has been upheld by the High Court and the Supreme Court.

Except Pawan, all convicts have exhausted their legal remedy available to file a curative petition before the Supreme Court. The President has also rejected the mercy pleas of Mukesh and Vinay.

A juvenile convict in the case has been released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term. One of the accused in the case, Ram Singh, died in the Tihar jail.

(With inputs from Soibam Rocky Singh) 


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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 2:23:00 PM |

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