Nirbhaya case: Delhi court seeks status report on execution

'Strategy' adopted by Nirbhaya case death row convicts to delay execution draws flak

January 16, 2020 10:33 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 11:49 am IST - New Delhi

Mukesh Singh, one of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case. File

Mukesh Singh, one of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case. File

A day after the Delhi government said none of the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case could be hanged on the scheduled date of January 22 as one of them has moved a mercy plea, a Delhi court on Thursday directed Tihar jail authorities to submit a report about the status of scheduled execution.


Currently, convicts Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Kumar Singh have already exhausted their option of a curative petition before the Supreme Court against the death sentence awarded to them, while the other two — Pawan Gupta and Akshay Singh — are yet to approach the Supreme Court with their curative plea.

After facing rejection from the top court, convict Mukesh has now moved a mercy petition against his pending capital punishment before the President earlier this week. Mukesh was also the lone convict who approached the Delhi High Court against the death warrant issued to him.

The High Court on Wednesday, however, declined to entertain his petition on the ground that he should have either moved the sessions court or the apex court. Following this, Mukesh approached the Delhi court here seeking postponement of the date of his execution on the ground that his mercy petition is pending with the President.

Court questions delay

The High Court had, while hearing Mukesh’s plea, expressed displeasure over the “strategy” adopted by the four death row convicts to delay the process of execution. It had questioned counsel for convict Mukesh as to why he kept waiting for two-and-a half years and did not file curative or mercy petitions after the Supreme Court dismissed his appeal against conviction and confirmed the death sentence awarded to him by the trial court. The High Court had also pulled up the prison authorities for the delay on their part and not communicating to the convicts that they can file mercy pleas after their appeals were dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2017.


It remarked that the notice which was issued to the convicts on October 29 and December 18, 2019, by the prison authorities asking the convicts to move their mercy pleas should have been done much earlier.

Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra, representing the jail authorities, had argued that the delay was due to the fact that one of the convicts — Akshay — had not filed his review plea till 2019 and it was dismissed only on December 18 last year.

Mr. Mehra argued that as per rules, unless all the four convicts exhaust their remedy of mercy petition, the jail authorities cannot proceed. The Delhi court is scheduled to hear Mukesh’s plea seeking postponement of the death warrant on Friday.

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