The Supreme Court Tuesday said it would hear on March 5 the plea filed by the Centre challenging the Delhi High Court verdict which held that the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya case have to be executed together and not separately. The apex court had made it clear on February 14 that pendency of the Centre's appeal seeking separate execution of the four convicts would not come in the way of trial court's issuing a fresh date for their hanging, which is now scheduled for March 3.
The appeal filed by the Centre and the Delhi government came up for hearing before a bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and Navin Sinha which adjourned the matter for next week.
"List the matters on March 5 at 3 PM," the bench said in its order.
The high court on February 5 dismissed the Centre's plea against the trial court's order staying the execution of death sentence of the four convicts.
It also faulted the authorities concerned for not taking steps for issuance of death warrant after the rejection of appeals of the accused by the Supreme Court in 2017.
The trial court on February 17 issued fresh date for execution of death warrants for March 3 at 6 am for the four convicts -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) -- in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case.
The top court had asked these four condemned prisoners to file their replies on the Centre's appeal.
The mercy petitions of three convicts -- Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay -- have already been dismissed by the President.
The fourth convict, Pawan, has till now neither filed a curative petition in the top court nor the mercy petition before the President.
The apex court had earlier dismissed separate pleas filed by Mukesh and Vinay challenging the rejection of their mercy petitions by the President.
Akshay has not yet challenged the rejection of his mercy petition.
On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who later came to be known as 'Nirbhaya' (fearless), was gang raped and savagely assaulted in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died after a fortnight.
Six people, including the four convicts and a juvenile, were named as accused. Ram Singh, the sixth accused, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar jail days after the trial began in the case.
The juvenile was released in 2015 after spending three years in a correctional home.