NEW DELHI :
THE Supreme Court on Tuesday sought response from the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case on the Centre’s appeal against the Delhi High Court verdict which had refused to set aside the stay on their execution. The apex court also granted liberty to the authorities to approach the trial court for obtaining fresh date for execution of death warrant. A bench comprising Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna made it clear that pendency of appeal filed by the Centre and the Delhi Government before it “will not be an impediment for the trial court” to consider the request for issuance of fresh date for execution “on its own merits.”
It noted the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and Delhi Government, that one week’s time granted by the High Court to these convicts was expiring on Tuesday and no further steps have been taken by them to avail any remedy. Mehta told the bench, which posted the matter for hearing on February 13, that execution of these convicts is not for “enjoyment” as the authorities are only executing the “mandate of the law.” Referring to the delaying tactics of the convicts, he said three of them have exhausted their remedies but one of them, Pawan Gupta, has not yet filed either a curative plea in the apex court or a mercy petition before the President.
He said the court has to keep in mind the impact of this situation on the society as despite the appeals of the convict being dismissed by the top court in 2017, the authorities were “struggling to execute them even now.” Mehta referred to the alleged encounter killing of four accused in the gangrape and murder case of a woman veterinarian in Hyderabad and said, “People were celebrating after the incident and this was because people have started losing faith in the system.
This reflects poorly on our system.” At the outset, the bench said, “The rules require that you have to wait if mercy petition is pending. If nothing is pending, you can move trial court for fresh death warrant.” Mehta said the situation was “tricky” as the trial court had earlier suspended the death warrant and the High Court later granted one week to the convicts to avail their remedies. “You can go back to the trial court. There is no impediment in seeking issuance of fresh death warrant. No one can be compelled to file mercy petition,” the bench said. While referring to Rules of the Delhi Jail Manual, Mehta said the issue was regarding High Court’s direction that these convicts have to be executed simultaneously and not separately. He said mercy petition is “individual” in nature and the moment authorities would move the trial court for issuance of fresh date for execution, convict Pawan Gupta may file mercy petition and then the High Court direction regarding simultaneous execution would come in the way.
The bench told Mehta that issuance of notice to the convicts on the appeal would lead to further delay in the matter. “We are not saying anything on execution for enjoyment. It is the mandate of the law and we are executing it,” Mehta said. When the bench said that there is a bar on execution if mercy petition is pending, Mehta said, “It would be qua the convict (who has filed it) only, not others. One person, by his inaction, cannot stay it for others. Mandate of law cannot be frustrated like this.”
Nirbhaya’s parents move court for death warrant
NEW DELHI :
NIRBHAYA’S parents and the Delhi Government moved a trial court on Tuesday seeking fresh death warrants for the four death row convicts for her gangrape and murder. Additional Session Judge Dharmender Rana issued notice to all the convicts and said it will take up the matter on Wednesday. The victim’s parents told the Delhi court that the convicts were making a mockery of the law and frustrating it. The application was moved after the Supreme Court on Tuesday granted liberty to the authorities to approach the trial court for issuance of fresh date for the execution of these convict.
The Tihar jail authorities also filed a status report on Tuesday before the trial court stating that no legal option was preferred by any convicts -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) -- in last seven day period, granted by the Delhi HC. The trial court had on February 7 dismissed the pleas of Delhi government and Tihar jail authorities seeking fresh date for execution of the four death row convicts in the case.
They had taken note of the High Court’s February 5 order permitting the convicts to exercise their legal remedies within one week. “It is criminally sinful to execute the convicts when law permits them to live. The HC on February 5 has permitted the convicts, in the interest of justice, to exercise their legal remedies within one week from same order,” the court had said. “I concur with counsel for convicts that death warrants cannot be executed merely on basis of surmises and conjectures.
The application is bereft of merit. Same is dismissed. State is at liberty to move appropriate application as and when required,” the judge had said. In its order, the High Court was critical of the delay caused by the authorities in seeking issuance of death warrants for the convicts as also of the “delay tactics” adopted by the convicts. Convict Vinay Sharma moves SC challenging rejection of mercy plea by President: One of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, Vinay Sharma, moved the SC on Tuesday challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President claiming that the “hurried rejection” was “mala fide” and violated the letter and spirit of the Constitution.
He has also sought commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment claiming that he has “developed mental illness” inside the prison due to alleged “torture and ill-treatment”. Vinay alleged in his plea that “public statements” made by Ministers at the Centre as well as in the Delhi Government supporting his execution had “pre-judged the outcome of his mercy petition”, and there also appears to be “non-application” of mind on the part of the President in rejecting his mercy plea.“This must also be considered in light of the hurried rejection of the mercy petition by the President on January 31, within 48 hours of filing of the petitioner’s mercy petition. Therefore, the decision of rejection of petitioner’s mercy petition is mala fide and therefore violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution,” said the plea, filed through advocate A P Singh.