The fate of four aides of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan hangs in balance as the Supreme Court on Saturday refused to give an urgent hearing to their petition challenging President Pranab Mukherjee's February 13 decision rejecting their mercy pleas.
Awarded death penalty in connection with a landmine blast that had killed 22 policemen in Karnataka nearly 20 years ago, Veerappan's associates moved the SC seeking an urgent hearing of their petition and a stay on their execution. The four convicts are lodged in a jail in Belgaum in Karnataka.
Their petition was mentioned by senior counsel Colin Gonsalves before Chief Justice of India Altmas Kabir at the latter's residence for urgent hearing.
The convicts have challenged the rejection of their mercy petition on the ground of inordinate delay in the decision.
Gonsalves wanted an urgent hearing suspecting the convicts were likely to be executed on Sunday.
But the court refused to grant an urgent hearing in the absence of any cogent document showing that executions were imminent.
Veerappan's elder brother Gnanaprakash, Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran were awarded death sentence in 2004 in connection with a landmine blast at Palar in Karnataka in 1993 in which 22 police personnel were killed.
Their mercy petition was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee on February 13.