Delhi gang rape convict moves SC, challenging dismissal of mercy plea
Mukesh Singh, one of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gang rape case, approached the Supreme Court on Saturday challenging the rejection of his mercy plea by President Ram Nath Kovind.
President Kovind had rejected Mukesh Singh’s mercy petition on January 17 within a span of just four days—in the fastest decision ever on a such a plea.
Singh relied on the guidelines laid down in the judgment by the top court in 2014 in the Shatrughan Chauhan vs Union of India case and assailed the manner in which the mercy plea was rejected.
Singh’s unsuccessful attempt to get a presidential pardon had necessitated a fresh death warrant and pushed the execution of the four convicts from January 22 to February 1.
Hours before Singh’s petition, a local court had disposed of a plea by the lawyer of three other death row convicts in the case seeking additional documents from the jail authorities to file the curative and mercy petition for his clients.
Judge AK Jain noted that all documents have been given to the defence team and that no further directions are required in that regard.
In December 2012, five men and one juvenile had raped and brutalized a young para-medic student in a moving bus in Delhi leading to nationwide outrage. The victim later died from the injuries received. One of the accused committed suicide in Tihar jail during the trial while the juvenile accused was sent to a reform house and released three years later.
The four remaining accused, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur were convicted and sentenced to death by the trial court in 2013. The conviction and sentence were confirmed by the Delhi high court in 2014 and the Supreme Court in May 2017. Subsequently, the review petitions filed by three convicts, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma against the Supreme Court judgment were dismissed in 2018 and the review petition by Akshay Thakur was dismissed in December 2019.
Additional Sessions Judge, Patiala House had on January 7, 2020 issued a death warrant against four convicts and scheduled their execution on January 22.
This left the convicts with two weeks’ time to file both the curative and mercy petitions.
Two of the accused, Mukesh and Vinay Sharma then filed curative petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the May 2017 judgment of the top court which had upheld their conviction and death sentence. The Supreme Court dismissed the curative petitions on January 14.
Immediately after that, Mukesh had filed his mercy plea before the President and also moved the Delhi High Court challenging the issuance of the death warrant by the trial court stating that the mercy petition is pending before the President
The Delhi High Court refused to stay the death warrant and asked Mukesh to go to the trial court. Mukesh, through his advocate Vrinda Grover, moved to the Patiala House court seeking postponement of the hanging.
The Patiala House court on January 16 asked the jail authorities to submit a fresh status report on the scheduled execution while also remarking that the hanging is unlikely to happen on January 22 because the mercy petition is pending.
The very next day Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora issued fresh death warrant rescheduling the execution date to February 1.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on January 20 dismissed a petition filed by Pawan Gupta who had argued that he was a juvenile at the time of commission of offence in December 2012.