‘Courts cannot discriminate against death row convict’: Execution of 4 in Dec 16 rape case deferred

Anand Mohan J
Dec 16 gangrape case: Delhi court stays execution of four convicts until further orders

The Supreme Court also dismissed a plea by convict Pawan Gupta, seeking a review of the decision that rejected his juvenility claim.

The execution of the four convicts in the December 16, 2012, gangrape-murder case, scheduled for 6 am, Saturday, has been deferred.

A Delhi court Friday postponed the execution till further orders, saying the country cannot afford to discriminate against a death row convict in pursuit of legal remedies. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana passed the order on the plea by the convicts, seeking adjournment of the executions with no appointed date for resumption.

“... Seeking redressal of one’s grievances through procedure established by law is the hallmark of any civilised society. The courts of this country cannot afford to adversely discriminate any convict, including death row convict, in pursuit of his legal remedies, by turning a Nelson’s eye towards him,” the ASJ wrote in his order.

The victim’s mother broke down outside the court room and said, “The convicts are taking advantage of the law and delaying their execution.”

Earlier, Additional Public Prosecutor Irfan Ahmed told the court “neither any remedy is pending nor any application. Vinay Sharma’s mercy petition is pending I concede. As far as the remaining convicts are concerned, all these convicts can be hanged on February 1. There is no illegality, no impediment.”

Vrinda Grover, amicus curiae for convict Mukesh, citing a Supreme Court judgment, contended that “execution of death sentence would lead to irreversible and irreparable process”. She told the court it would be unjust to allow the death sentence to be executed qua Mukesh, saying “if the mercy petition of the other convicts is favourably considered by the President of India, the change in circumstances would entitle convict Mukesh to move for a fresh mercy petition”.

Grover said Mukesh cannot be adversely segregated from similarly placed co-convicts simply because he has sincerely and earnestly pursued his legal remedies. “What message will the courts send? That the one who is exercising his remedy will be punished first?”

A P Singh, counsel for Pawan, Akshay and Vinay, told the court that Vinay’s mercy petition was filed, a review petition was filed on behalf of Pawan, and a criminal appeal pertaining to the three convicts was pending before the Delhi High Court. He said Akshay’s curative petition was dismissed Thursday and he intends to move a mercy petition before the President.

“If the execution of death warrants issued by this court is not stayed, then the legal remedies of the convicts shall become infructuous.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court also dismissed a plea by convict Pawan Gupta, seeking a review of the decision that rejected his juvenility claim.

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