Court adjourns hearing in death warrant plea against 2012 gang-rape convicts
The prosecution had urged additional sessions judge Satish Arora to issue the death warrant for the execution of all the four convicts in the December 16, 2012, gang-rape case.Updated: Dec 13, 2019 17:37 IST
A local court in New Delhi on Friday adjourned the hearing in the December 2012 gang-rape and murder case to next week after it was informed that one of the convicts has filed a review petition before the Supreme Court, which will hear the plea on December 17.
The prosecution had urged additional sessions judge Satish Arora to issue the death warrant for the execution of all the four convicts in the December 16, 2012, gang-rape case.
They are among the six men convicted of raping and killing the 23-year-old woman, who was returning home after watching a film with her friend, on December 16, 2012. The woman died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital on December 29, triggering massive protests across the country.
Advocate Rajiv Mohan said that the court can issue the death warrant and all the legal remedies can be exhausted even after that.
Judge Arora said that since the matter has been listed in the Supreme Court, it cannot pass any order and would wait for the orders of the top court.
The judge also rapped the counsel for three convicts, advocate AP Singh, for filing the curative petition at this stage.
“Why didn’t you file the plea earlier? What was holding you back?” the judge asked.
“Now the review is pending and I can’t pass any order without hearing the plea,” the judge added.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, the amicus curiae in the matter, said legal remedies are yet to be exhausted and so the warrant for death cannot be issued.
The counsel for the prosecution said that nothing prevents the court from issuing the death warrant.
However, the court adjourned the matter and would now take it up on December 18, a day after the Supreme Court will hear the plea filed by Akshay Thakur, who has sought a review of the court’s 2017 judgement awarding him the death penalty.
A three-judge bench will hear the plea filed by Thakur, whose lawyer has questioned the capital punishment at a time life is getting “short” due to rising pollution.
Prison authorities had written to all the four convicts—Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur, and Mukesh Singh—on October 27 that they had exhausted their legal options.
They said that the department would start the process for their hanging if the four did not file a mercy plea with the President.
Of the four convicts, Sharma was the only one to file the mercy plea. It was first sent to the state government and then to Lieutenant Governor (LG) Anil Baijal. State home minister Satyendar Jain and Baijal recommended the petition be dismissed and forwarded the file to the President’s office.
Sharma later moved a plea to President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking the immediate withdrawal of his mercy petition, claiming that he did not sign the document.
According to the letter sent to the President and the ministry of home affairs (MHA), Sharma’s lawyer AP Singh sought the cancellation of the plea and requested a fresh start.
The letter stated that the mercy petition forwarded for the perusal of the authorities was sent without any authorisation and legal representative, or consent by Sharma. The advocate also alleged that this was a conspiracy as the convict is yet to file a curative petition.
Mukesh, another convict, had refused to file a petition.
One of the accused Ram Singh had hanged himself in the jail and a juvenile was convicted of rape and murder and given the maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment in a reform facility.