- Four convicts in Nirbhaya case "trying patience of nation": Centre
- They will not hang until further orders in the case
- Hanging postponed indefinitely after Vinay Sharma filed mercy petition
The four convicts in the Nirbhaya case are "trying the patience of the nation," the centre told the Delhi High Court today, challenging the trial court's order staying their execution. The court, which was giving a rare Sunday hearing to the matter, has reserved its order.
The mother of the young woman, who has repeatedly questioned if only convicts and not victims of crimes have rights, said she hoped the order will be given tomorrow. "Hope it is in our favour, hope it gets us closer to justice," she told reporters.
Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Mukesh Singh and Akshay Singh - convicted for the 2012 gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student in Delhi, dubbed Nirbhaya by the media - were to be executed on Saturday. But the hanging was postponed indefinitely after one of them, Vinay Sharma, filed a mercy petition before President Ram Nath Kovind. As his appeal was turned down, another convict, Akshay Singh, filed his mercy plea.
The four will not hang until further orders in the case, Delhi's Patiala House Court said. The rules require that a convict gets 14 days between the rejection of a mercy plea and his execution. The original date of execution, January 22, was pushed back after Mukesh Singh's mercy plea was rejected.
Today, asking the High Court to order execution of the two convicts who have exhausted all legal options and whose mercy plea have been turned down, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the centre, said: "The accused are trying the patience of the nation. Such delays will shake the faith of people in the administration of justice".
Accusing the convicts of "acting in tandem" to "frustrate the very objective of the punishment", Mr Mehta said convict Pawan Gupta has been "filing all kinds of appeals in courts but not the mercy petition".
"Mukesh filed almost his seventh legal proceeding on January 31. Till that point, he had still not filed his mercy plea," the centre argued. This is to deliberately delay the execution, Mr Mehta added.
"I am standing here today because even death row convicts of heinous crimes are entitled to their rights," said advocate Rebecca John, who was representing Mukesh Singh. "The convicts are under no constitutional obligation to hasten the proceedings. You can't condemn me for using legal remedies," she added.
The government was talking of delay for the first time, Ms John said, pointing out that her review petitions and curative petitions were dismissed not on the basis of delay but merit.
"My mercy petition was also dismissed on merit. Nobody told me a delay argument or accused me of acting in tandem like the Union government is saying now," she added.
The four convicts, along with two others had gang-raped the young woman in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012. Tortured with an iron rod and thrown off the vehicle, she died on December 29 at a hospital in Singapore.
One of the assailants, just short of 18 when the crime was committed, was released after spending three years in a reform home. The main accused, Ram Singh, was found hanging in jail.
The savage assault stunned the nation and led to multiple changes in law and procedure.