The lawyer cited Rule 836 of the prison manual which says that in a case where more than one person has been handed over the death penalty, the execution cannot take place unless all the convicts have exhausted their legal options.
Just 12 hours before the four men who raped a 23-year-old in 2012 were to be led to the gallows at Tihar, a Delhi court on Friday stayed the black warrant for their execution. This was the second time that their execution was put off by the judge. This time, the judge did not issue a fresh warrant for their execution.
Several hours earlier, Judge Dharmender Rana had heard the lawyer of the convicts seek cancellation of the death warrants since the four were yet to exhaust their legal options. One mercy petition is still pending before the President.
A little after 5 pm, the judge emerged from his chambers to deliver his one-line verdict. “Execution Order Stayed Till Further Orders,” he said.
In the written order that was made available later, the judge ruled that seeking redressal of one’s grievances through procedures established by law is the hallmark of any civilized society. “The courts of this country cannot afford to adversely discriminate any convict, including death row convict, in pursuit of his legal remedies, by turning a Nelson’s eye towards him” the judge underscored.
The convict’s lawyer had cited the prison manual which says that in a case where more than one person has been handed over the death penalty, the execution cannot take place unless all the convicts have exhausted their legal options.
“Pawan Kumar Gupta has filed a review petition in the Supreme Court on the rejection of his juvenility claim,” Singh said. “Akshay’s curative has been rejected and I would file the mercy plea after I have got the order from the Supreme Court,” he further said. Singh is also representing Gupta.
Pawan Gupta’s review petition was however, rejected by the Supreme Court later on Friday.
Lawyer Vrinda Grover, who is representing Mukesh Singh, had also joined AP Singh and said that there is a common sentence in which the accused have been convicted. “The execution order is a common order. My client cannot be hanged and the execution of one cannot be separated from other. Hence, the execution should be stayed,” she had said. Mukesh is out of legal options after his plea against the presidential order was rejected by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The arguments were made in response to prosecution’s argument against staying the February 1 execution who said that the application is not maintainable.
Public prosecutor Irfan Ahmad said, “The execution date of February 1 still holds good for all convicts barring Vinay Sharma since his mercy petition is pending before the President. So, all the other convicts except Vinay can be hanged and no law prevents their hanging.”
The trial court had 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.
The four convicts – Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) – were sentenced to death by a fast-track court in just about a year after the gruesome crime that had brought thousands of people on the streets to protest. It led to a major overhaul of laws surrounding sexual assault.
Their victim, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, was gang-raped 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.