Supreme Court of India. (Photo: Mint)
Supreme Court of India. (Photo: Mint)

Delhi gangrape case: SC notice to four death row convicts on Centre's plea

  • Court allows Centre to approach trial court for fresh date for execution of death warrant
  • The court will next hear the matter on Thursday

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the four death row convicts on the Centre's plea against a Delhi High Court order that refused to dismiss a stay on the execution of four death row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder case.

The court allowed the Centre to approach the trial court for a fresh date for the execution of the death warrant. It further observed that the pendency of the petition in Supreme Court will not act as an impediment for the Centre to move a lower court.

The court will now hear the matter on Thursday.

The bench, comprising Justices R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna, directed the service of notice on convicts through Tihar Jail authorities.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Union government said, “If I go and get death warrants then he would file the curative or mercy next day. That is the impediment. I am exhausting the mandate of law and they are frustrating the mandate of law. One person by inaction can postpone other convicts execution…. They are acting in tandem. As a system, we aren’t able to go further in a 2012 case."

Referring to the alleged encounter killing of four accused in the gang rape and murder case of a woman veterinarian in Hyderabad, he said "People had celebrated after this and this was because people have started losing faith in the system. This reflects poorly on our system."

The top court turned down the solicitor general's request for a stay on the high court order that said all the four convicts should be executed at the same time.

A trial court on 31 January had stayed "till further orders" the execution of the four convicts in the case -- Mukesh Kumar Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma, and Akshay Kumar -- who are lodged in Tihar Jail.

Meanwhile, Vinay Sharma approached the Supreme Court on Tuesday challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President.

The Delhi High Court on 5 February gave the four death-row convicts one week to exhaust all their legal options. The deadline expired today.

A Delhi court on Tuesday also issued notice to the death row convicts in the case on a plea by the victim's parents and the Delhi government seeking issuance of fresh death warrant. Additional session judge Dharmender Rana will take up the matter on Wednesday.

In December 2012, a 23-year-old woman was brutally assaulted and raped by six people in a moving bus in south Delhi, an incident which prompted nationwide protests. She succumbed to her injuries on 29 December at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

One of the six was let off after three years in custody because he was a minor. The sixth, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide at Tihar jail a few months before the trial court delivered its verdict.

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