Nirbhaya case: Tihar challenges execution plea in HC

Nirbhaya case: Tihar challenges before Delhi court maintainability of plea for stay of execution

 Saying only one convict's plea is pending and the others can be hanged, Tihar Jail authorities on Friday challenged before a Delhi court the application of three condemned prisoners in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case seeking a stay on their execution on February 1.

The convicts' lawyer disagreed with the jail authorities, who filed a status report before Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana, and said rules dictate that when one convict's plea is pending the others cannot be hanged.

Advocate A P Singh, representing three death row convicts -- Pawan Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma and Akshay Kumar -- urged the court to adjourn the executions "sine die" (with no appointed date for resumption). Vinay's mercy plea before the president is pending.

The prison authorities opposed the plea and said only one convict's mercy plea is pending and others can be hanged.

"When one convict's plea is pending, others cannot be hanged as per rules," Singh said.

He urged the court to adjourn the executions "sine die" as legal remedies of some of the convicts are yet to be availed.

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 Wednesday.

The trial court on January 17 issued black warrants for the second time for the execution of all the four convicts in the case in Tihar jail at 6 am on February 1. Earlier, on January 7, the court had fixed January 22 as the hanging date.

The curative petitions of Vinay and Akshay have been rejected by the apex court. Pawan is the only one yet to file a curative plea.

Convicts have the option of moving a mercy petition before the president only after the apex court dismisses their curative plea.

On Thursday, the Delhi court issued notice to the jail authorities seeking their response on the plea of the death row convicts seeking stay on their executions.

Their victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern who came to be known as "Nirbhaya" (the fearless one), was gangraped 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. 

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