SC allows Nirbhaya convicts to exhaust legal remedies

SC allows Nirbhaya convicts to exhaust legal remedies; trial court rejects plea for fresh death warrants

Representative image. (Getty images)

The Supreme Court on Friday decided to let the Nirbhaya case convicts exhaust their legal and constitutional remedies within seven days in terms of the Delhi High Court's order.

A Delhi court also rejected a plea by the Tihar jail authorities to issue fresh death warrants against the convicts, saying “It is criminally sinful to execute the convicts when law permits them to live.”

A bench of Justices R Banumathi Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna refused to issue notice to the convicts on the petitions filed by the Centre and Delhi government for separate execution of those whose mercy plea stood rejected.

The top court posted the petitions for hearing on February 11, even though Solicitor General Tushar Mehta insisted for it, saying the nation's patience was being tested and the authorities cannot wait endlessly.

"Let them exhaust their remedies. We will take up the matter on February 11. The HC's order amply protects you," the bench said.

Mehta, for his part, said the top court had to lay down law related to hanging of co-convicts in view of pendency of mercy plea by other convicts.

The execution of the four convicts in the case has been deferred twice first from January 22 and second on February 1 “till further orders” due to filing of mercy plea by one and another of them.

Rejecting the Tihar jail authorities' plea, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana said, the High Court on February 5 has permitted the convicts, in the interest of justice, to exercise their legal remedies within one week from same order.

"I concur with counsel for convicts that death warrants cannot be executed merely on basis of surmises and conjectures. The application is bereft of merit,” the judge said.

The Centre, as well as the Delhi government had on February 5 approached the top court, within hours of the High Court rejecting their plea against the trial court's order of January 31, postponing the death warrants.

In its order, the HC had stated there can't be segregation among the convicts as they were held guilty of the offence by a common order.

Of the four convicts, mercy pleas by Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay have been rejected by the President. Vinay had preferred not to file curative petition. Pawan has so far not filed curative or mercy petition in the case where a 23-year-old woman, referred to as Nirbhaya, was sexually assaulted in a moving bus in South Delhi on December 16, 2012.

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