President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected the mercy petition of Akshay Thakur, the third of the four convicts in Nirbhaya gangrape case. The death row prisoner had filed the appeal on Saturday, hours after President Kovind turned down the appeal of fellow convict Vinay Sharma.
A mercy plea to the President of India is the last option for a prisoner awarded the death penalty. In case of a negative response from the President, the execution can take place a fortnight later, the rules say.
But the execution of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case -- Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Mukesh Singh and Akshay Singh - have to take place together, the Delhi High Court said today, turning down the Centre's petition for a phased implementation of the execution order. The fourth convict, Pawan Gupta is yet to file for clemency.
The court today gave the convicts one week to explore all legal options, and ordered the trial court to begin proceedings for their execution after that. The order came in response to the Centre's petition against the indefinite freeze on execution placed by a lower court.
"I'm glad that the High Court has set a time limit for the process. The convicts have been delaying it, now it has to done within a week," Nirbhaya's mother told reporters.
The four convicts, along with two others -- one of them a minor -- had attacked the young woman and her friend on the night of December 16, 2012, as they were on way home after watching a movie.
The woman was gangraped and tortured with an iron rod. After fighting for life for 13 days, she died on December 29 at a hospital in Singapore.
One of the assailants, months short of 18 when the crime was committed, was released after three years at a reform home. The main accused, Ram Singh, was found hanging in jail in 2013.
The brutality of the attack had outraged the nation and made headlines across the world. Thousands hit the streets in protest, leading to many changes in law.