A Patiala House court of Additional Sessions Court on Thursday issued fresh death warrant against the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape cum murder case.
As per the warrant, the four convicts i.e. Akshay, Pawan, Mukesh and Vinay will be hanged on March 20 at 5.30 am.
The order came about in a plea moved by Tihar Jail authorities following the rejection of the mercy petition of the fourth convict in the Nirbhaya case, Pawan Gupta, by the President of India.
Earlier this week, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana had stayed the execution of the death warrant in view of the pendency of Pawan's mercy petition. The mercy petitions of other three convicts, Mukesh, Akshay and Vinay had already been rejected by the President earlier.
Considering that all the convicts seem to have now exhausted all remedies available to them under the law, the path now seems clear for their execution to be held on the date set by the court.
This was confirmed by legal experts.
Talking to National Herald, Seema Samridhi Kushwaha, the advocate representing Nirbahya’s mother, said that there can be no further delay in the sentence to be carried out. “They have all exhausted all legal remedies available to them and as such, they will definitely be hanged on March 20 as per the death warrant,” she said.
Mahesh Thakur, Advocate-on-Record (AOR) at the Supreme Court of India, concurred. “They have no right left now, having moved curative petitions in the SC and mercy petitions before the President, which have all been dismissed one by one. They also all tried other ploys – changing lawyers, pleading insanity or juvenility etc – but now it’s certain that the execution will be carried out on the set date,” he told National Herald.
“Technically speaking, they can still file another round of mercy petitions and challenge their rejection before the SC, but it won’t get them anywhere,” he said.
“The way they have been forced to beg for mercy should send a strong message to all potential criminals. The law has made it very clear that such offenders will not only have to hang their head in shame but their head will also hang in a noose,” he added.
Another lawyer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, opined that the only situation in which the execution of the death sentence could get delayed is if one of the convicts falls severely ill.
The death warrant issued on Thursday marks the fourth such execution order issued in the case. The convicts were earlier scheduled to be hanged on March 3 at 6 am, as per the last death warrant issued on February 17.
The first death warrant against the four convicts was issued on January 7 and the convicts were to be hanged on January 22 at 7 pm. Later, the execution was deferred given the pendency of Mukesh's mercy plea at the time. A second warrant was issued on January 17 for the execution of the convicts on February 1.