Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana of Patiala House Courts, New Delhi on Wednesday adjourned the hearing of Tihar Jail's plea seeking fresh death warrant against the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case.
The adjournment was granted in order to ensure legal aid for Pawan Gupta, one of the convicts.
The Court noted that a death row convict has a right to audi alteram partem till his last breath.
In today's hearing, the court was informed of the fact that Advocate AP Singh had refused to receive notice on behalf of Pawan, by claiming that he's no longer representing him.
In light of the said development, the court relieved AP Singh as Pawan's counsel, and provided a list of empanelled legal aid lawyers to Pawan's father for choosing a counsel for his son.
While holding that any condemned convict is entitled to legal aid till his last breath, the court highlighted that:
'Let the justice be done, even if the heaven falls'.
Pawan's father, however, showed unwillingness to engage a government counsel. He demanded some time from the court to engage a private lawyer.
Considering the urgency of the matter, and to expedite the process of justice, the court denied to provide further time to Pawan's father for engaging a private lawyer.
Hence, the Court said in the order that the jail authorities will provide a list of empanelled legal aid lawyers to Pawan, who shall have the liberty to choose the legal aid counsel of his choice.
The petition was moved under section 413 of Code of Criminal Procedure, as mercy petitions of three out of the four convicts, namely Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay, have been rejected by the President of India.
Since the fourth convict, Pawan, has still not preferred either his curative or the mercy petition, there's no application pending on behalf of any of the convicts before any court.
It was mentioned in the application that after the trial court's order dated 31/01/2020, wherein the date of execution was stayed sine die, the President has rejected the mercy pleas of both Vinay and Akshay on February 1 and February 5 respectively.
The application also talked about the High Court order in the revision petition moved the Centre, wherein a period of 7 days have been given to the convicts to exhaust all their legal remedies.
A fresh death warrant was sought on the ground that, as on today, none of the petitions of any of the convicts is pending before any court or constitutional authority, and accordingly, nothing survives as on today.
On January 7, the first common death warrant was issued against the four convicts, and the date of execution was set for January 22. However, the said date had to be postponed to February 1, by an order dated January 17, due to the subsequent developments in the legal remedies exercised by the convicts