New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to four death row convicts in Nirbhaya case on a plea by the Centre and Delhi government seeking separate execution of the death sentence of three convicts — Mukesh, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Kumar Singh — who have exhausted all their legal remedies, including mercy petitions.
The court issued notice that would be served on four convicts through Tihar Jail superintendent, as the Centre and Delhi government told the court that the four convicts were acting in ‘tandem’ adopting ‘strategic inaction’ to ‘frustrate the mandate of law’.
Fixing February 13 for further hearing of the matter, the court allowed the Centre and the Delhi government to approach the trial court for the issuance of fresh warrants for the execution of death sentence.
The Centre and Delhi government have challenged February 5, 2020, Delhi High Court judgment, holding that all the four death row convicts in Nirbhaya case would be hanged simultaneously and not individually.
Issuing notice, a bench of Justice R. Banumathi, Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice A.S. Bopanna made it clear that the plea for separate hanging of convicts sentenced to death in the same case would involve the interpretation of the jail manual and would take a long time to decide and may further delay the execution.
‘Issuance of notice would further prolong the proceedings,’ Justice Bhushan said as Solicitor General, repeatedly urged the court to issue notice to the four convicts.
‘They are working in tandem. It is a strategic inaction; it is not a case where he (Pawan Gupta) has no legal assistance. I (govt.) am executing the mandate of law and they (convicts) are frustrating the mandate of law,’ the Solicitor General said.
Meanwhile, one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, Vinay Sharma, moved the Supreme Court on Tuesday challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President claiming that the ‘hurried rejection’ was ‘mala fide’ and violated the letter and spirit of the Constitution. He has also sought commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment claiming that he has ‘developed mental illness’ inside the prison due to the alleged ‘torture and ill-treatment’. He alleged in his plea that ‘public statements’ made by ministers at the Centre as well as in the Delhi government supporting his execution had ‘pre-judged the outcome of his mercy petition’, and there also appears to be ‘non-application’ of mind on the part of the President.