Delhi judge Dharmendra Rana on Monday stopped the execution of the four Delhi gang-rape convicts, barely 13 hours before the four were to walk to the gallows at Tihar prison tomorrow morning.
The judge ruled that a last-minute mercy petition filed by Pawan Gupta – the last of the four to file the plea – is still pending with Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“I am of the opinion that the death sentence cannot be executed pending the disposal of the mercy petition of the convict. It is hereby directed that the execution of death warrants against all the convicts scheduled for 03.03.2020 at 6 am if deferred till further orders,” the judge said in his order.
Reacting to stay on the executions for the third time, the victim’s mother blamed the “failure of the system and the government”.
“This is the failure of the system and the government which has led to the delay of the execution. Till the time the convicts are not hanged, I will not be relieved.” she said.
Earlier Monday, the judge had rejected Pawan’s request to stop the executions yet again but reserved the order because the convict had petitioned the President to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment.
Pawan Gupta’s lawyer A P Singh had filed the mercy plea shortly after the Supreme Court dismissed the convict’s curative petition Monday morning. A curative petition is the last judicial resort available to a convict for redressal against the final judgment.
The Supreme Court had dismissed curative petitions filed by two other convicts, Mukesh Singh and Vinay Sharma on January 14. The curative petition filed by the third convict, Akshay Thakur was dismissed on January 30.
Earlier in the morning, Justice Rana also underlined during the hearing that Pawan Gupta had missed the seven-day deadline that the Delhi high court had set last month for the convicts to avail their legal remedies.
The court had first issued the death warrant against the four convicts on January 7, 2020 and scheduled their execution on January 22. The execution date was postponed twice, first to February 1 and then to March 3.
In December 2012, five men and a juvenile had raped and brutalised a young para-medic student in a moving bus in Delhi before throwing her and a male friend out of the vehicle. The victim later died of injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital. One of the accused committed suicide in Tihar jail during the trial.
The brutality of the crime had provoked nationwide outrage that brought tens of thousands of people on the streets and led to a major overhaul of laws relating to crimes against women