A Delhi Court on Friday stayed the hanging of four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape and murder case until further orders.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana at Patiala House Court passed the order in the applications filed by the convicts to stay the execution of their death penalties scheduled on February 1 at 6 AM.
On January 17, a Sessions Court in Patial House had issued warrants for their execution on February 1.
"Without commenting upon the dilatory tactics adopted by the convicts, suffice it would be to state that seeking redressal of one's grievances through procedure established by law is the hallmark of any civilized society.
The Courts of this country cannot afford to adversely discriminate any convict, including death row convict, in pursuit of his legal remedies, by turning a Nelson's eye towards him"
The stay of execution was sought on the ground that the convicts have not exhausted all available legal remedies. Mercy plea of one of the convicts, Vinay Sharma, has already been submitted to the President of India. Two other convicts, Akshay Singh and Pawan Gupta, have not yet availed the remedy of mercy plea.
Convict Pawan Gupta is also seeking to file curative petition in the Supreme Court, the application stated. Curative petitions for Akshay, Mukesh and Vinay have already been dismissed.
The applications cited Rules 836 and 858 of the Delhi Prison Rules. As per these Rule 836, a convict cannot be executed when legal proceedings of a co-convict in the same case are pending. According to Rule 858, a death row convict must be given a notice of minimum 14 days after the rejection of the mercy plea.
Mukesh Singh, whose all legal remedies have been exhausted, also filed an application stating that he cannot be hanged in isolation when the legal remedies by the other three convicts are pending.
Prosecutor Irfan Ahmad, appearing for Tihar jail authorities, argued that the applications were 'a complete mockery of justice'.
He cited Rule 863 of Delhi Prison Rules to argue that neither any appeal or application is pending so far as 3 out of the 4 convicts are concerned. Therefore, these convicts can be hanged on the scheduled date of February 1. He however conceded that the execution of Vinay Sharma could be postponed in view of the pendency of his mercy petition.
Advocate AP Singh, appearing or Pawan, Akshay and Vinay, argued that convicts cannot be hanged until their mercy petitions are rejected by the President.
He submitted that the that the date of execution should be adjourned sine die as no one can predict when the President would decide the mercy plea.
He also referred to remarks passed by former SC judge Justice Kurian Joseph against death penalty.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, who was appointed as amicus curiae to represent convict Mukesh , told the court that even if the mercy plea of a single convict is pending, execution of all the convicts have to be postponed. These convicts can't be executed separately.
"There can't be severance of the sentence", she submitted.
"Sentence is a common sentence, death warrant is a common warrant. Therefore, these convicts can't be executed separately", Grover submitted.
"Death Penalty is an irreversible process. It would be a travesty of justice if convicts are segregated in terms of sentence for the very same offence", Vrinda Grover told the court.
'Death Penalty is an irreversible process. It would be a travesty of justice if convicts are segregated in terms of sentence for the very same offence', Vrinda Grover informs the court#Nirbhaya #NirbhayaCase— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) January 31, 2020
'Death Penalty is an irreversible process. It would be a travesty of justice if convicts are segregated in terms of sentence for the very same offence', Vrinda Grover informs the court#Nirbhaya #NirbhayaCase
Grover cited guidelines issued by Home Ministry to argue that a condemned prisoner can file a fresh plea before the President to reconsider the order on mercy, in case there's a subsequent development which warrants mercy.
Advocates Seema Kushwaha and Jeetendra Jha, appearing for the victim's family, submitted the convicts' lawyers are "manipulating" the judicial system to delay the hanging.
"These are the delay tactics which are causing distress and outrage in public at large. Such delay tactics reflect very badly on the judicial pillar of our state. Both the victim and the accused should get speedy justice", they submitted.