Court hits pause on death warrant for Delhi rape convict, victim’s mother breaks down
A Delhi court hearing a request by the police to issue a black warrant to execute the four men who gang-raped the 23-year-old physiotherapy student in 2012 on Wednesday declined to immediately issue the death warrant.
Judge Satish Kumar Arora, who had heard the police push hard for the warrant to execute the four, said he wanted to wait for a mercy petition filed by one of the convicts to be decided before issuing the warrant.
“I am not going into these arguments. The fact of the matter is that a mercy petition is pending,” Arora ruled. He ordered Tihar jail officials to issue a fresh notice informing the convicts about their legal remedies and put off the next hearing to January 7.
As the judge was wrapping up the hearing, the gang-rape victim’s mother broke down. “Do we not have any rights… Wherever we go, we hear people talking about the rights of their (convicts)... What about ours,” she said, whimpering.
The judge sought to console her. “We are here to uphold that,” he told her.
She continued to speak about her frustration and disappointment outside.
“We have been coming to this place (Patiala House courts complex)... Everywhere we see that the system supports the convicts… It seems they, and not the government and the prosecution are supreme,” she said after wiping away her tears.
Her daughter was on her way back home on a cold December night with a friend when they boarded a private bus. The men in the vehicle thrashed her friend and took turns raping her and then used an iron rod to inflict massive internal injuries to her. The two was dumped naked on the highway near the international airport. The woman died two weeks later. Her family has been fighting for punishment since then.
One of the six who were on the bus got off lightly because he was not an adult. Another allegedly committed suicide in jail. The remaining four were convicted and sentenced to death.
Three of them had filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against their execution, which was rejected last year. As Tihar jail authorities started preparing for their execution, the fourth convict filed a review petition in the Supreme Court.
This petition had been dismissed just a few hours earlier on Wednesday, news that had brought a smile on the face of the victim’s parents. “I am happy,” her father told reporters.
Her mother had been pursuing the case in the lower court where they wanted the judge to expedite issuing a death warrant, officially called “Warrant of Execution of a Sentence of Death”.
The public prosecutor had asked judge Satish Kumar Arora to issue the warrant, asserting that the pendency of the curative petitions or mercy petitions did not stand in the way.
Lawyer Vrinda Grover, who has been appointed as amicus curiae to represent one of the convicts Mukesh Singh, told the court that death warrant should not be issued at this stage since they were yet to exhaust the available legal remedies including a curative petition and mercy pleas. She also stressed that it was necessary for jail officials to issue a fresh notice to the convicts about their legal rights at each step.