NIRBHAYA: hanging on Mar 3, now

TNN Bureau. Updated: 2/18/2020 9:26:26 AM Front Page

NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Monday ordered that the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case be hanged on March 3 after it issued fresh death warrants, observing that deferring the execution any further would be "sacrilegious" to the rights of the victim for expeditious justice.
The court directed that the four men--Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31)--be hanged by neck on March 3 at 6 am until they are dead. It is for the third time that the death warrants were issued by the court against them.
"It is hereby directed that the death warrants, as issued by this court vide order dated January 7, 2020 in respect of the condemned convicts namely Mukesh, Pawan, Akshay and Vinay shall now be carried into effect by causing the said convicts to be hanged by neck until they are dead on March 3 at 6 am," Additional Session Judge Dharmender Rana said.
The court noted that death warrants were earlier issued on January 7 and the execution was later deferred twice, i.e., on January 17 and January 31.
"Now deferring it any further would be sacrilegious to the rights of the victim for expeditious justice," it said.
Nirbhaya's mother expressed the hope that the four convicts would finally be hanged on March 3.
"We hope the order (death warrant) is finally executed," she told reporters.
In its order, the court further noted that the criminal appeal of the convicts was dismissed by the Supreme Court on May 5, 2017 and after a lapse of about 33 months, convict Pawan has opted neither to file any curative petition nor any mercy petition has been filed on his behalf.
Pawan is the only one among the four convicts who has not yet filed the curative petition -- the last legal remedy available to a person, which is decided in-chamber. He has not filed the mercy plea either.
"There is only two possible inferences for such indolence; 1) either convict Pawan is satisfied with the verdict of the Supreme Court or 2) he is simply interested in merely delaying the court proceedings, In either case, he cannot claim that the execution of the sentence needs to be delayed further," the court noted.
It further noted that the Delhi High Court had given "one more opportunity" to Pawan, "unambiguously clarifying to exercise his rights within a week, failing which requisite action shall be initiated without any further delay".
"Convict Pawan cannot be permitted to defeat the ends of justice by simply opting to remain indolent," it said.
The first date of execution, January 22, was postponed to February 1 by a January 17 court order. Then the trial court, on January 31, stayed, "till further orders" the execution of the four convicts as they had not exhausted all their legal remedies.
The court said "there cannot be any quarrel with the proposition that protection under Article 21 (no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law) of Constitution is available to the convicts till their last breath."
During the proceedings on Monday, Pawan's counsel, advocate Ravi Qazi, told the court that the convict "intends to move a curative petition before the Supreme Court and mercy petition before the President."
Akshay's counsel A P Singh submitted that "in the earlier mercy petition due to poverty and ignorance the complete facts could not be brought before the President of India and thus convict Akshay has already prepared fresh complete mercy petition and it would be very soon moved before the President".
The court refused to entertain the plea, saying "mere preparation of a fresh mercy petition or in the words of court 'a complete mercy petition' cannot be a ground to defer the execution of the death warrants."
The court was also informed that Vinay was on hunger strike in Tihar jail.
However, he later broke the strike, the court was told.
It directed the jail superintendent to take appropriate care of Vinay as per law.

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