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New Delhi, February 2, 2020
The Central government on Sunday told the Delhi High Court that the indefinite stay imposed on the execution of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case was a "deliberate, well-calculated and well-thought out attempt to frustrate the process of law" and that there should be "no delay" in their hanging.
The bench of Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, during a special court proceeding on the weekend, later reserved its order on the Centre's plea.
Appearing for the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said: "In the interest of the society and victim, there should be no delay. Even in the case of the convicts, the Supreme Court says that there should be no delay as it would have dehumanising effect on the convict."
He also presented a chart before the court explaining the legal remedies availed by the four death row convicts till now.
The court was hearing a petition filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) challenging the stay imposed by the sessions court on the hanging of Vinay, Akshay, Mukesh and Pawan -- convicted for raping a medical student in December 2012.
"There is a deliberate, well-calculated and well-thought design to frustrate the process of law. Mukesh took an ingenious plea which the trial court mistakenly accepted. Mercy jurisdiction is individual," Mehta said.
Their hanging, originally scheduled for 7 a.m. January 22, was postponed to February 1 at 6 a.m. but deferred again on January 31 after Mukesh filed an application before a Delhi court contending that other convicts are yet to avail the legal remedies and cannot be hanged separately.
Mukesh and Vinay have exhausted their legal remedies. However, a decision on Akshay's mercy plea is pending before the President. Pawan has yet not availed the remedy of mercy petition, which is the last constitutional resort.
Continuing his tirade against the four convicts facing the gallows, Mehta asserted said that a co-convict, by his mere "calculative inaction", can frustrate the order of the court.
The Solicitor General said that the trial court mistook the appeal filed by the convict to be a "mercy" plea.
The 23-year-old victim, later named Nirbhaya, was brutally gang-raped and tortured and succumbed to her injuries a few days later. The deed was committed by six men who were all arrested and charged with sexual assault and murder.
One of the accused was a minor and appeared before a juvenile justice court, while another accused committed suicide in Tihar Jail.
Four other convicts -- Akshay, Pawan, Mukesh and Vinay -- were sentenced to death by a trial court in September 2013, and the verdict was confirmed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014 and upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2017 which also dismissed their review petition in July 2018.