‘Cancel 1 Feb death warrant’: 4 death row convicts back in Delhi court
Forty hours before they were to be taken to the gallows, the four Delhi gang rape convicts on Thursday rushed to a Delhi court to ask the judge to stop execution of their 1 February death warrant. In an application filed in the court, their lawyer AP Singh told the judge that a mercy plea filed by 26-year-old Vinay Kumar Sharma to seek a presidential pardon was still pending.
Vinay Kumar Sharma had filed the mercy plea on Wednesday evening.
Lawyer AP Singh cited provisions of the Delhi Prison Rules that make it clear that none of the four convicts in the same crime can be hanged before the last one has exhausted all legal options including the mercy petition.
Besides, Singh has also drawn the court’s attention to the 2014 verdict of the Supreme Court that ordered jail authorities to give death row convicts 14 days after rejection of their mercy plea before hanging them.
The court had accepted this argument on January 17 when it issued a second black warrant to execute the four convicts - Mukesh Kumar Singh(32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) - on 1 February at 6 am.
The four were sentenced to death by a fast-track court in just about a year of 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.
The confirmation of the death verdict by the high court and the subsequent appeals, however, are still continuing.
AP Singh also drew the court’s attention to Akshay Kumar Singh’s curative petition that would be taken up later today. Besides, he said, three convicts - Pawan Kumar Gupta, Akshay Kumar Singh and Vinay Sharma - had also filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court.
Pawan Kumar Gupta and Akshay Kumar Singh would be filing a mercy petition which would require time for consideration. “Therefore, the present execution date of 1 February 2020 is unsustainable and should be set aside,” the application said.