- Vinay Sharma filed petition in Supreme Court against his death sentence
- 4 Nirbhaya case convicts will be hanged on January 22, a court had said
- All four reportedly broke down in jail after the death warrant
Two of the four men sentenced to death in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case have filed curative petitions in the Supreme Court, exercising the last legal option against the death sentence. Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh approached the top court two days after a Delhi court declared that the four rapists will be hanged at 7 am on January 22.
Mukesh Singh, 32, Pawan Gupta, 25, Vinay Sharma, 26, and Akshay Kumar Singh, 31, will be executed together at Tihar jail, where officials had started preparing a month ago, the court said on Tuesday.
All four reportedly broke down in jail after the death warrant. The death warrant has to be executed in 14 days, according to the order, and the convicts have this period to use exercise their remedies.
"To eliminate systemic and political bias against the Petitioner, it is imperative that this case be reheard in open court by the senior most judges of this Hon'ble Court without the Damocles sword of an execution warrant handing over the proceedings (sic)," the petition filed by Vinay Sharma in the Supreme Court said.
"The petitioner's father earns a meagre living. The family has no savings and live in the RK Puram Harijan Basti. If the petitioner is executed, his entire family will be destroyed," it added.
A "dummy execution", which involves testing the gallows using weights, will be carried out in Jail 3 of Tihar, where the convicts will be executed, the jail administration said in a statement quoted by news agency ANI. Until the hanging, the four convicts will be in solitary confinement. They will be allowed a last meeting with a family member.
The centre had last month recommended to President Ram Nath Kovind the rejection of a request for mercy by Vinay Sharma.
The Supreme Court has already turned down review petitions against the death sentence from three of the convicts, and a mercy petition from a fourth has been turned down.
One of the convicts, Pawan Kumar Gupta, had even claimed he was a minor at the time of the crime. But the judge had dismissed it and imposed a Rs 25,000 fine on his lawyer for "playing hide-and-seek".
Last month, the Supreme Court had dismissed the last review petition filed by Akshay Kumar Singh. Nirbhaya's parents then asked a lower court to issue a death warrant but the judge had deferred a decision until Tuesday.
Senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, who appeared for Delhi Police in the top court said the Nirbhaya case is not fit for filing a curative petition. "Nevertheless, if the convicts file a curative or a mercy plea, then the death warrants issued by the trial court will automatically lead to its suspension till the decision of the same," he told NDTV.
The 23-year-old woman was raped on the intervening night of December 16 and 17, 2012 inside a moving bus in south Delhi by six people. She was violated with an iron rod when she protested. Her friend was beaten severely, and both were thrown out of the bus at a secluded spot. She died 13 days later, on December 29, in Singapore.
While the court said the four men will hanged on January 22, two more were accused in the case. Ram Singh was found hanging in his cell and the sixth, who was just short of 18 when the crime was committed, was released after three years in a reform home.