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Wednesday 29 January 2020

Nirbhaya convicts’ pleas reduce Indian judicial process to joke

For the past two months, India has been witnessing a farce of mercy pleas and repeat petitions from the rapists and killers of Nirbhaya, every time delaying their execution

In a development that would disappoint the whole nation looking for justice for Nirbhaya, the Delhi government and union government have opined it may not be possible to hang her rapists and killers at 7 AM on 22 January because of a mercy petition of one of the convicts pending hearing in the Delhi High Court. Given that the mercy petition of one of the convicts on death row, Mukesh Singh, is being heard, the Delhi government said in the court today there will be no hanging on 22 January.

Advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for the Tihar Jail Administration, said that the convicts could be hanged 14 days after the mercy petition is dismissed. “We are bound by legal provisions. After the mercy petition is dismissed, notice is given 14 days before the execution — that too after the clemency plea that the president receives is dismissed,” he said.

Both Delhi and the union governments told the court that the petition against the death warrant is immature.

On 7 January in an important judgment, on the petition of Nirbhaya’s parents, Delhi’s Patiala House Court had issued a death warrant, against which only Mukesh filed a petition.

On Tuesday, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had dismissed the curative petitions of Vinay Kumar Sharma and Mukesh Singh during the hearing. However, both Mukesh Singh and Vinay Kumar Sharma have filed clemency pleas with President Ram Nath Kovind. The remaining two convicts Pawan Kumar Gupta and Akshay Thakur have the option of a curative petition to the Supreme Court and a clemency plea with the president too.

In December 2019, it was speculated that the convicts could be hanged on the day they tormented Nirbhaya. A hunt for a hangman began, which soon ended. In the meantime, however, the judicial rigmarole had begun with all kinds of frivolities like convict Akshay saying Delhi was a gas chamber where he would die anyway; so there was no need to hang him and another one, Pawan, pleading he was a minor during the criminal act. Then there was a mercy plea from convict Vinay to the president that a convict wanted to be returned, as the convict’s signature was allegedly missing. Now the nation is being told two more options remain with the convicts, which they could use to delay their execution!

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