- The top court will announce its decision on convict's petition tomorrow
- Four Nirbhaya case convicts will be hanged on February 1
- Centre has asked top court for a change in guidelines in death row cases
One of the four Nirbhaya case convicts to be hanged on February 1 has challenged the rejection of his mercy request citing "non-application of mind" by the President of India. The Supreme Court will announce its decision on the convict's petition tomorrow.
Convict Mukesh Singh's lawyer argued before the Supreme Court today that all records were not sent to President Ram Nath Kovind, so his decision to reject mercy was "arbitrary and malafide".
The Supreme Court rejected his request to show documents to the President that he claimed would prove he was "beaten and sexually assaulted" in jail.
"You are playing with somebody's life. You have to apply your mind," said Mukesh's lawyer, Anjana Prakash, during the arguments.
"Do you mean the President has to look into every document and then decide," questioned Justice Ashok Bhushan.
"How can you say that these facts were not placed before his excellency the President? How can you say that there was non-application of mind by the President," the Supreme Court questioned.
Ms Prakash claimed Mukesh Singh was "repeatedly sexually abused in jail". She also claimed he was kept in solitary confinement even before his mercy petition was rejected and this was against prison rules.
Representing the police, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said: "Sufferings in the prison can't be a ground for mercy. Mukesh was not kept in solitary confinement. The limited period Mukesh was kept in a separate single cell can't be equated with solitary confinement."
Mr Mehta also pointed out: "Sometimes, medical health and condition of death row convicts has deteriorated so much so that they cannot be given death penalty but in this case, the medical condition of this(Mukesh) convict, is fine."
Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma and Akshay Kumar are to hang on Saturday at 6 am. Chief Justice SA Bobde had on Monday asked that Mukesh's petition be listed "on top priority" because of the execution date.
Last-minute petitions by the convicts have been widely seen as desperate attempts to stall their hanging.
The government last week asked the Supreme Court for a change in guidelines in death row cases so convicts cannot keep delaying the sentence by exploiting legal options. The current rules are skewed towards convicts and allows them to "play with the law and delay execution," the centre said in its petition.
On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old medical student was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.