Five days before the four Nirbhaya case convicts are to be hanged, Delhi's Tihar Jail today asked for a new date, saying the execution cannot take place until mercy petitions filed by the convicts are settled.
The convicts, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Singh and Pawan Gupta, are to be hanged at 7 am on January 22, a Delhi court declared last week, putting out a death warrant in the seven-year-old case.
Mukesh Singh filed a mercy petition on Tuesday. Even if it is rejected by the President of India, a convict has to be given 14 days before execution.
Officials of Tihar, where the convicts have been kept, told a Delhi court today that they have asked the state government for a new date of execution because of the mercy plea.
"There are five days to January 22. The President is likely to reject the mercy plea in a day or two. Then these people will ask for 14 days' time. Then they will ask for a new date. In such a situation, how can the hanging take place," the court said.
The court asked the prison authorities for a report by Friday on the status of execution.
Nirbhaya's mother, fearing more delay in the execution of the four men, said she had been going to many courts for years but wanted justice now. "If they have rights, we too have the right to justice for our daughter who was killed seven years ago," she said.
On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old medical student was gang-raped and tortured on a moving bus before being dumped on a road in south Delhi. The woman, who came to be known as "Nirbhaya", died on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.
Six men were arrested for the horrifying assault. A fifth accused -- Ram Singh -- allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail during the trial and the sixth man, a few months short of 18 at the time of the incident, was released after three years in a reform facility.
Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said his government had rejected Mukesh Singh's mercy plea "at lightning speed".