Uncertainty again looms over the hanging of the four death row convicts here in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case scheduled on February 1, with a second condemned prisoner filing a mercy petition before the President on Wednesday and a third convict also moving a curative plea before the Supreme Court.
According to Delhi Prison Rules, none of the four convicts in the same crime can be hanged before the last one has exhausted all legal options, including the mercy plea. Also, apex court guidelines stipulate that convicts cannot be hanged until 14 days after their mercy plea has been rejected by the President.
The trial court on January 17 issued black warrants for the second time for the execution of all the four convicts - Mukesh Kumar Singh(32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh(31) - in Tihar jail at 6 am on February 1.
The court earlier on January 7 fixed January 22 as the hanging date.
Tihar jail authorities will now have to move the trial court and inform it about Vinay's mercy plea and seek postponement of the black warrant.
As of now only Mukesh has exhausted all his legal remedies including the clemency plea which was dismissed by President Ram Nath Kovind on January 17 and the appeal against the rejection was thrown out by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice R Banumathi held that "quick consideration" and "swift rejection" of Mukesh's mercy petition does not suggest non-application of mind or it being pre-determined.