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New Delhi, February 11, 2020
The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to entertain the Centre's plea seeking a stay on a Delhi High Court order for simultaneous execution of all four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended that the moment the authorities move for death warrant, the one accused, who is yet to file mercy and curative petitions, would move the mercy plea to stall the execution of all the convicts on death row.
A bench headed by Justice R. Banumathi and comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and A. S. Bopanna insisted that the Centre should move the trial court for issuance of fresh date for death warrants.
"If nothing is pending, then you (Centre) can ask for fresh warrants," said Justice Bhushan.
Mehta informed the court that except for Pawan, the remaining three accused have exhausted all legal remedies available at their disposal.
The apex court observed that none of the four convicts have taken any step within the one week time stipulated by the Delhi High Court. Therefore, in this scenario, the Centre may move the trial court for the issuance of fresh date for execution of death warrants.
Mehta also cited the alleged encounter of four people accused in the gang-rape and murder of a woman veterinarian by the police in Telangana in December last year.
He contended that the Nirbhaya convicts were trying the patience of the nation. "People will stop having faith in the judicial system. Seven years have gone by and the convicts are still playing the judicial system and I am struggling for death warrants," Mehta said.
"It is in situations like this that people celebrate encounter killings," Mehta contended before the bench.
The apex court has kept the petition of Centre for further hearing on Thursday, saying the pendency would not preclude the trial court to issue appropriate orders in the matter.
Meanwhile, Vinay Kumar Sharma, one of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case, has moved the Supreme Court challenging the rejection of his mercy plea by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Sharma had filed a mercy petition for the commutation of the death sentence to a life sentence. However, his plea was rejected by the President on February 1.