A Delhi court Thursday issued fresh death warrants for the execution of the four convicts — Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) — in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case. The four will be executed on March 20 at 5.30 am. All the convicts in the case are to be hanged together.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana fixed March 20 as the new date of execution after it was told by the Delhi government that the convicts have exhausted all their legal remedies. The lawyer for the four death row convicts also told the court that there was no legal impediment for the court in proceeding to fix the date of execution.
Speaking to the media, Nirbhaya’s mother said she hopes that this is the final date and they would be hanged on March 20. The execution of their death warrants has been deferred thrice so far due to delays by them in exhausting legal remedies.
“The morning of March 20 will be the morning of our life. If there is any chance, I would like to see them die. While dying, Nirbhaya had asked to ensure they get such punishment that such crime is not repeated ever. Till the time they are not hanged, the struggle will be on,” Nirbhaya’s mother said to the media.
The President has already rejected the mercy petitions of all the four convicts.
A 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’ (fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted in a moving bus in South Delhi on December 16, 2012. She had died after a fortnight.
Six people, including the four convicts and a juvenile, were named as accused. Ram Singh, the sixth accused, allegedly took his own life in Tihar jail days after the trial began in the case. The juvenile was released in 2015 after spending three years in a correctional home.
Meanwhile, AP Singh, the lawyer for the convicts, said that the hanging of the convicts, if it takes place on March 20, will be a judicial killing as the convicts still have legal remedies left. Rules suggest that if a mercy petition is rejected, then the convicted should get 14 days gap before execution.
Till now, the four convicts were utilizing the 14-day gap rule of each other to delay the hanging. They knew all of them can be hanged together only and not separately. This was the biggest loophole defense used to delay the execution.
On Wednesday, the Patiala House Court rejected the pleas of two convicts- Pawan Gupta and Akshay Kumar Singh– who had sought a stay on the execution of their death warrants. The court issued a fresh execution date after all four convicts reportedly exhausted all their legal remedies.
Earlier, Tihar Jail authorities said the four convicts were kept on a suicide watch to prevent them from hurting themselves ahead of the execution.
On February 16, convict Vinay Sharma reportedly banged his head against the wall in an attempt to inflict self-injuries. Earlier, Sharma also moved the Election Commission challenging the rejection of his mercy plea by Delhi government keeping in view the model code of conduct.
Vinay along with Pawan, Mukesh, and Akshay, was convicted for rape and murder of Nirbhaya in May 2017. Their death sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court in 2018.