A Delhi court on January 31 stayed the hanging of the four death-row convicts in the Nirbhaya case. The trial court has postponed the execution of the death warrant till further notice.
Three death row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder case had approached the court seeking a stay on their execution, which was scheduled for February 1.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana had reserved the order after completion of hearing of arguments of the Tihar jail authorities and advocate AP Singh, who is representing the convicts – Pawan Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma and Akshay Kumar.
While the Tihar Jail authorities challenged the convicts' application, saying only one convict's plea is pending and the others can be hanged, AP Singh disagreed with the jail authorities and said rules dictate that when one convict's plea is pending, the others cannot be hanged.
Singh urged the court to adjourn the executions "sine die" (with no appointed date for resumption).
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As of now, the curative petitions of Vinay and Akshay stand rejected by the apex court. Vinay's mercy plea before the President is still pending. Pawan is the only one yet not to file a curative plea.
Convicts have the option of moving a mercy petition before the President only after the Supreme Court dismisses their curative plea, the penultimate legal resort.
The fourth person sentenced to death in the case is Mukesh Kumar, whose mercy plea was dismissed by President Ram Nath Kovind on January 17. The appeal against the rejection was thrown out by the Supreme Court on January 29.
The trial court had, on January 17, issued black warrants for the second time for the execution of all the four convicts, scheduling the hanging for February 1 at 6 am at Tihar jail in Delhi.
Earlier, on January 7, the court had fixed January 22 as the hanging date.
A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as 'Nirbhaya' (the fearless one), was gang raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.