Union Minister Prakash Javadekar on Thursday blamed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi for the delay in the execution of four men convicted in the 2012 gang-rape of a medical student that triggered nationwide outrage.
“The hanging of the convicts in 2012 Delhi gang-rape case is now delayed because of Delhi government's negligence. AAP is responsible for the delay in justice. Why did Delhi government not give notice to the convicts for filing mercy plea in last 2.5 years?” Mr Javadekar said at a news conference.
The execution of the four Nirbhaya case convicts "will surely not take place" on January 22 because of a mercy petition filed by one of them, the Delhi government told the High Court on Wednesday. But the court refused to set aside the death warrant put out by a trial court judge, saying there was "nothing wrong with it".
Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Kumar, Akshay Kumar Singh and Pawan Gupta are to be hanged next Wednesday at 7 am inside Tihar jail in Delhi. A trial court judge signed a death warrant for the execution, seven years after a young medical student was gang-raped on a moving bus, tortured and killed in December 2012.
The High Court refused to hear the convict's petition challenging the death warrant, asking him to approach the trial court.
None of the four convicts can be executed on January 22 unless the mercy plea is decided, the court was told.
"The fate of a death convict comes to finality only after his mercy plea is rejected by the President," said lawyer Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government.
Mr Mehra told the court that the pattern followed by the convicts to file their mercy pleas separately was a strategy to "frustrate the process of law". After one plea, the government would need to wait for the other convicts to exhaust their mercy pleas as well, he said.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday dismissed the last of curative pleas, the final legal option before the convicts, filed by Mukesh and Vinay.
Nirbhaya's mother requested President Ram Nath Kovind to summarily reject the mercy petition of Mukesh Singh. "They will be hanged on the decided date, no matter which court they approach," she told reporters.