New Delhi: A Delhi court on Friday has stayed the execution of four death row convicts – Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Kumar, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur – in the Nirbhaya gangrape-murder case till further orders. They were earlier scheduled to be executed on Saturday (February 1).
Earlier in the day, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana reserved the order after hearing the arguments of the Tihar jail authorities and the convicts’ lawyer.
Saying only one convict’s plea is pending and the others can be hanged, Tihar Jail authorities had challenged the application of three condemned prisoners in the case seeking a stay on their execution.
The lawyer for Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur disagreed with the jail authorities and said rules dictate that when one convict’s plea is pending, the others cannot be hanged.
Advocate A.P. Singh, representing the convicts, urged the court to adjourn the executions sine die (with no appointed date for resumption). Vinay’s mercy plea before the president is pending.
The fourth person sentenced to death in the case is Mukesh Kumar, whose mercy plea was dismissed by President Ram Nath Kovind on January 17. The appeal against the rejection was thrown out by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The trial court on January 17 issued black warrants for the second time for the execution of all the four convicts in the case in Tihar jail at 6 am on February first. Earlier, on January 7, the court had fixed January 22 as the hanging date.
The curative petitions of Vinay and Akshay have been rejected by the apex court. Pawan is the only one who has not yet filed a curative plea.
Convicts have the option of moving a mercy petition before the president only after the apex court dismisses their curative plea.
A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern who came to be known as “Nirbhaya” (the fearless one) was gangraped and assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.