One of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya case, Pawan Gupta, has filed a petition in the Supreme Court against last year's Delhi High Court order in which his claim that he was a juvenile at the time of the crime was dismissed, news agency PTI has reported. The move comes after fresh death warrants were on Friday issued for the men convicted of raping and murdering a 23-year-old paramedical student in 2012. A three-judge bench led by Justice R Banumathi will take up the matter in the Supreme Court on Monday.
Convict Pawan Gupta had claimed he was a minor, "an innocent boy" at the time of the crime and should be punished under laws for juveniles - which means a lesser prison term. He had also claimed that proper medical tests to establish his age were not done at the time. The High Court had dismissed his claims in December last year.
Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Kumar Singh and Pawan Gupta were to be hanged at Delhi's Tihar Jail on January 22. A trial court had signed a death warrant.
After the Supreme Court refused to entertain their curative petition on Tuesday, Mukesh Singh, however, filed a mercy plea with the President. The Delhi government, seeking a fresh date for their hanging, told the High Court that the pattern followed by the convicts to file their mercy pleas separately was a strategy to "frustrate the process of law".
After President Ram Nath Kovind rejected Mukesh Singh's mercy plea, fresh warrants, rescheduling their hanging to 6 am, February 1, were issued.
The new death warrants are dated to exactly 14 days from Friday, in accordance with a law that states convicts to be executed must have a reprieve from the time their mercy plea is turned down.
Out of the six people involved in the crime, Ram Singh had committed suicide inside his prison cell. A juvenile had been released after spending three years - maximum punishment for minors- in a correctional centre.
The victim's mother, Asha Devi, had on Thursday demanded that the date of execution should not be extended.
"The date of execution should not be extended. There are several loopholes and escape routes for the convicts' benefit, but for somebody like me -- who had to do the rounds of the courts for so many years after witnessing the death of my only daughter -- there seems to be no respite at all. Why should I suffer because of the negligence of Tihar Jail officials and the Delhi government?" she had said.