Top Stories

Four Convicts Hanged To Death At Tihar Jail In Nirbhaya Case After Late Night Legal Battles [Read Timeline]

20 March 2020 12:08 AM GMT
Four Convicts Hanged To Death At Tihar Jail In Nirbhaya Case After Late Night Legal Battles [Read Timeline]
Your free access to Live Law has expired
To read the article, get a premium account.
    Your Subscription Supports Independent Journalism
Subscription starts from
(For 6 Months)
Premium account gives you:
  • Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.
  • Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.
Already a subscriber?

The execution of four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape and murder case - Mukesh Singh(32), Akshay Kumar Singh(31) , Vinay Sharma(26) and Pawan Kumar Gupta(25) - was carried out at Tihar Jail, Delhi on Friday morning at 5. 30 AM.

Though the convicts made late night attempts to stall the execution by filing a revision petition in the Delhi HC and also a writ petition in the Supreme Court, the same were dismissed by the Courts.

A Delhi High Court division bench comprising Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula rejected the petition at around 12 AM after a special late night hearing at the residence of Justice Manmohan. The petition had sought stay of execution, inter alia, on the ground that second mercy petition of Akshay was pending.

After that, a writ petition was filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the rejection of mercy plea of Pawan Gupta. Following a hearing which commenced at around 2.45 AM, a bench comprising Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna dismissed the petition around 3. 45 AM.

Nirbhaya Case : SC Dismisses Final Plea Of Convicts To Stay Execution After Past Midnight Hearing

The execution was earlier deferred on three occasions.

It was on January 7 that the Trial Court issued death warrants in the case for the first time, for execution on January 22.

On January 17, the date was postponed, noting that convict Mukesh's mercy plea was rejected only on that day. The new date was fixed as February 1, to provide the mandatory 14 days notice for the convict after the rejection of death penalty.

On the eve of the new date, January 31, the Trial Court stayed the execution until further orders, taking note of the fact that the other three convicts have not exhausted all their legal remedies. ASJ Dharmender Rana of Patiala House Court refused to accept the plea of the State for separate hanging of Mukesh by reasoning that all convicts sentenced by a common order should be executed together.

Next, on February 17, the trial court issued black warrant for execution on March 3.

On March 2, a day before the scheduled hanging, the date was deferred taking into account the mercy petition submitted by Pawan Gupta.

After the rejection of Pawan's mercy petition, the trial court issued fresh death warrant on March 5 for execution on March 20.

Nirbhaya Case Timeline



  • Dec 16 - 23-year-old paramedical student was gang-raped by six men including a juvenile on a moving bus while she was on the way to her home in Dwaraka with her friend after watching a movie.
  • Dec 17 - Police identify the accused as Ram Singh (bus driver), his brother Mukesh, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta. FIR is registered after her friend gives a statement to the police.
  • Dec 18 - Ram Singh and three others (Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh) were arrested.
  • Dec 21 - The fifth accused i.e., the juvenile was arrested from Anand Vihar bus terminal in Delhi.
  • Dec 22 - The sixth accused Akshay Kumar Singh alias Thakur gets arrested from Bihar and brought to Delhi.
  • Dec 26 - Girl's condition deteriorated at Safdarjung Hospital.
  • Dec 27 - Nirbhaya is sent to Mount Elizabeth Hospital Singapore.
  • Dec 29 - The victim succumbed to injuries and police add murder charges in the FIR.



  • Jan 3 - Delhi police filed charge sheet against five adult accused under various sections of the IPC which includes murder, gang rape, attempt to murder, kidnapping, unnatural offenses, dacoity, etc.
  • Jan 5 - Court took cognizance of the charge sheet.
  • Jan 7 - Court ordered in-camera proceedings
  • Jan 17 - Fast Track Court started proceedings against the five adult accused.


  • Feb 2 - Fast Track Court framed charges against the five adult accused.
  • Feb 28 - Juvenile Justice Board framed charges against the juvenile accused.


  • Mar 11 - Accused Ram Singh commited suicide in Delhi's Tihar Jail.
  • Mar 22 - Delhi High Court allowed national media to report the trial court's proceedings.


  • Jul 5 - Inquiry trial in Juvenile Justice Board against the juvenile accused concluded.
  • Jul 8 - Fast Track Court completed the recording of testimonies of prosecution witnesses.


  • Aug 22 - Fast Track Court started hearing final arguments in the trial court against the four adult accused.
  • Aug 31 - Juvenile Justice board convicted the juvenile for gangrape and murder and awarded three-years in a special home.


  • Sept 3 - Fast Track Court concluded trial. Reserved verdict.
  • Sept 10- Sessions Judge convicted Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Mukesh, Pawan Gupta under sections 302, 120 B, 365, 366, 376(2)(g), 377, 307, 201, 395, 397, 412 of the IPC and sentenced them to death under the charge of murder.
  • Sept 23 - Delhi HC began hearing the convicts death sentence.



  • Jan 3 - Delhi HC reserved verdict on convict's appeals.


  • Mar 13 - Delhi HC upheld the death penalty of the 4 adult convicts.
  • Mar 15 - Supreme Court stayed the execution of 2 convicts, Mukesh and Pawan after they filed appeals. The apex court later stayed the execution of other convicts also.



  • Dec 20 - Juvenile is released from the correction home.



  • Feb 3 - Supreme Court said it would hear afresh the aspect of awarding death penalty to the convicts.


  • Mar 27 - Supreme Court reserved verdict on their appeals.


  • May 5 - The apex court upheld the death penalty to four convicts (Akshay Thakur, Mukesh, Vinay Kumar, Pawan Gupta), says the case falls under the category of 'rarest of rare'.


  • Nov 8 - Mukesh, one of the four death row convicts in the case moved the Supreme Court seeking review of its verdict upholding the capital punishment awarded to him.


  • Dec 12 - Delhi police opposed Mukesh's plea in Supreme Court.
  • Dec 15 - Two convicts Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta filed a review petition in the Supreme Court.



  • May 4 - Supreme Court reserved order on the two review plea by the convicts Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta.


  • Jul 9 - Supreme Court dismissed the review petitions of three convicts (Mukesh, Vinay, and Pawan)



  • Oct 29 - Tihar jail granted time to file mercy petition to the convicts.


  • Nov 8 - A mercy petition was filed by the convict Vinay Sharma before the President, Ram Nath Kovind.


  • Dec 1 - The Delhi government recommended the rejection of Vinay Sharma's mercy petition.
  • Dec 2 - The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal recommended the rejection of Vinay Sharma's mercy petition.
  • Dec 10 - Akshay Thakur filed a review petition in the Supreme Court.
  • Dec 13 - Nirbhaya's mother moved the Supreme Court opposing the review filed by death row convicts.
  • Dec 18 - The Supreme court rejected the review petition filed by the death row convict Akshay Thakur.

The Patiala House Court postponed the hearing on the death warrant till January 7, 2020.

  • Dec 19 - Delhi High Court dismissed the plea of the convict Pawan Gupta claiming that he was a juvenile during the gang-rape that happened in 2012.



  • Jan 7 - Patiala House Court ordered four convicts (Mukesh, Pawan, Vinay, Akshay) to be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail.
  • Jan 9 - Death row convict Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Kumar filed curative plea in the Supreme Court.
  • Jan 14 - Five-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices N V Ramana, Arun Mishra, R.F.Nariman, R.Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan dismissed the curative petitions filed by two convicts- Mukesh Singh and Vinay Sharma.

Mukesh Singh then moved the Delhi High Court challenging the death order.

  • Jan 15 - Delhi HC refused to interfere with the death warrant issued by the trial court.
  • Jan 16 - Sessions judge Satish Arora at Patiala House Court directed Tihar Administration to submit a detailed report on steps taken post-filing of Mukesh's mercy plea.
  • Jan 17 - President Ram Nath Kovind rejected the mercy petition of Mukesh Kumar. Rejection happened within hours after the Ministry of Home Affairs forwarded the application to the President. Sessions Judge of Patiala House Court issued a fresh death warrant for the execution of the four convicts. The new date set for the execution was February 1, 6 a.m.   
  • Jan 20 - Supreme Court dismissed plea of juvenility raised by Pawan Gupta.
  • Jan 25 - Mukesh Kumar moved the Supreme Court challenging President's rejection of mercy plea.
  • Jan 27 - Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Kumar Jain rejected the plea moved by the father of one of the convicts, wherein the credibility of the sole eye witness in the case was challenged as being 'tutored'.
  • Jan 28 - Supreme Court reserved the order on the plea filed by Mukesh Kumar against the rejection of his mercy plea by the President.
  • Jan 29 - Supreme Court dismissed Mukesh Kumar's plea against mercy rejection by the President.  Akshay Thakur filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court challenging the death sentence .  
  • Jan 30 - Five-judge bench of the Supreme Court dismissed the curative petitions of Akshay Thakur, one of the convicts in the Nirbhaya case.

 Jan 31 -The Supreme court dismissed the review petition filed by Pawan Kumar Gupta, one of the four death-row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape.

The Delhi court stayed hanging of four convicts in Nirbhaya 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 Feb 1 at 6am.


  • Feb 1 - The Delhi High Court in an urgent sitting issued notices to the four convicts of the Nirbhaya rape case, in a plea challenging the trial court order which had put a stay on their execution. The revision petition was moved by the Ministry of Home Affairs, against the order dated 31/01/2020 wherein ASJ Dharmendar Rana had stayed the execution date issued against the four convicts till further orders are passed. President rejected the mercy petition of  Vinay Sharma.
  • Feb 2 - The Delhi High Court reserved an order on the revision petition filed by Union Government against the order passed on January 31 by ASJ Dhamender Rana of Patiala House Courts staying the execution of the hanging of the four convicts. Justice Suresh Kumar Kait heard the arguments for over three hours on a special Sunday starting from 3pm.
  • Feb 5 - Observing that the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case cannot be executed separately, the Delhi High Court directed them to exhaust their remaining legal remedies within 7 days from today. The court said that after the said period, the authorities should act per law. 
  • Feb 6 - The Tihar Jail authorities moved Patiala House Court for seeking fresh death warrants against the four convicts. The Supreme Court agreed to hear Centre's plea challenging the Delhi High Court's decision to not allow convicts and to be executed separately.
  • Feb 7 - The Supreme Court adjourned hearing of Centre's appeal against stay on executions till February 11. The Delhi Court dismissed the plea moved by Tihar authorities seeking fresh death warrants against the convicts.
  • Feb 11 - The Supreme Court allowed the Centre to move trial court for fresh death warrants. The court held that the convicts can only be executed together after they have exhausted their legal rights. The Bench comprising Justice R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna also granted liberty to the Centre to seek for issuance of fresh death warrants from the trial court. 

 Feb 12 - Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendar Rana of Patiala House adjourned the hearing of Tihar jail's plea seeking fresh death warrant against the four convicts. 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.

  • Feb 13 - Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice R Banumathi commenced hearing the petition filed by Vinay Sharma, convict in Nirbhaya case, against the rejection of his mercy petition by President. The Supreme Court reserved order on Vinay Sharma's challenge against rejection of mercy plea by the President. Delhi Court adjourns hearing of plea for fresh death warrant till February 17.
  • Feb 14 - The Supreme Court dismissed the writ petition filed by Vinay Sharma against the President's order rejecting his petition seeking mercy under Article 72 of the Constitution of India.  Hearing on Tihar's plea seeking fresh death warrant against all the convicts had begun before ASJ Dharmender Rana at Patiala House Court.
  • Feb 17 - The Delhi Court issued fresh death warrants for the hanging of four convicts- Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Singh- in the Nirbhaya gangrape-murder case on March 3 at 6 AM.
  • Feb 20 - The Patiala House sought a report from the Tihar Jail Superintendent after an application was moved on behalf of Vinay Sharma seeking "high level treatment". Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana took up this matter for hearing and was informed that Vinay had banged his head against a wall and suffered a head injury along with a fracture in his right arm. Singh said that this was due to his mental illness and further appraised the court that he was unable to recognise his mother or his counsel during the last jail visit.
  • Feb 22 - The Patiala House dismissed Vinay Sharma's plea for high level treatment for the want of any merit. Additional Sessions Judge, Dharmender Rana was satisfied with the medical report submitted by Tihar Jail authorities, from which it was "evident that the convict is not only being provided regular medical care but regular supportive therapy/sessions is being conducted for him by the specialist psychiatry."
  • Feb 25 - A bench comprising Justices R. Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan & Navin Sinha, deferred the Union's plea seeking separate execution of death row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya Gang Rape Case to 5th March 2020.  
  • Feb 28 -  Pawan Kumar Gupta filed curative petition in the Supreme Court.
  • Feb 29 - A plea was moved in Delhi High Court seeking court's direction to National Human RIghts Commission to conduct an inquiry into the physical and mental conditions of the four convicts. Moved by activist A Rajarajan, the petition wanted the National Human Rights Commission to intervene and enquire about the physical and mental conditions of the four death convicts with the aid and assistance of unbiased experts from relevant fields.


  • March 2 - A day before the scheduled execution of death warrant in the Nirbhaya case, a 5-judge bench of the Supreme Court dismissed the curative petition filed by convict Pawan Kumar Gupta seeking commutation of death sentence.  

A Delhi Court defers the execution of their death sentences, which was scheduled to take place on March 3, at 6 AM. The last moment mercy petition filed by Nirbhaya case convict Pawan Kumar Gupta has resulted in the postponement of the execution of death sentences of all convicts.

The Court observed in the order that "any condemned convict must not meet his Creator with a grievance in his bosom that the courts of this Country have not acted fairly in granting him an opportunity to exhaust his legal remedies".

  • March 4 - Delhi High Court refused to entertain a plea seeking court's direction to National Human Rights Commission to conduct an inquiry into the physical and mental conditions of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape case.


March 5 - The Delhi Court issued fresh death warrant in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case for the execution of death sentences by hanging by the neck of four convicts on March 20 at 6 AM.

  • March 9 - One of the four convicts, Vinay Sharma sought commutation of his death sentence to that of life imprisonment to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor. Invoking the power of the government under Sections 432 and 433 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Vinay requested the LG to suspend and commute his sentence. He stated that as his life is nearing an end, he wanted to take one last opportunity to appeal to the Executive's kindness and begged to save him from death.
  • March 16 - The Supreme Court dismissed a plea seeking permission to file a fresh curative petition for one of the 2012 Delhi Gangrape and murder convicts, Mukesh Singh. The Bench comprising of Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah found that the petition was not maintainable since it had been filed by Mukesh's brother, Suresh, and did not include any signed affidavit by the death row convict.

 ● March 17 - One of the convicts Mukesh sought to declare the trial as vitiated alleging concealment of material documents and facts. Moving an application before Additional Sessions Judge Shri Dharmendra Rana, Mukesh had contended that the State concealed vital documents in the trial court and secured the final order to execute the death sentence.

The Delhi Court rejected the plea moved by Mukesh. The Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana while dismissing the matter, referred the matter to the Bar Council of India to take note of the conduct of the lawyer.

March 18 - Delhi High Court dismisses plea moved by one of the convicts Mukesh seeking the trial court order dated 10/09/2013, wherein he was convicted for the rape and murder of Nirbhaya, to be declared as invalid on the ground of concealment of vital documents. 

March 19 : SC dismisses fresh plea of Mukesh challenging the trial and Akshay's petition challenging mercy plea. SC also dismisses Pawan Gupta's curative petition challenging the rejection of claim of juvenility. Trial Court dismisses a fresh plea for stay on execution.

March 20

12 AM : Delhi HC dismisses convicts' plea for stay on execution.

3.45 AM : SC dismisses convict Pawan Gupta's plea against rejection of mercy petition.

5. 30 AM : Execution carried out.

Next Story