No execution on March 3; Delhi court defers hanging of Nirbhaya rape convicts till further orders

The execution of the Nirbhaya rapists has been deferred yet again. A Delhi court said that the death sentence cannot be executed pending disposal of mercy petition of convict Pawan Kumar Gupta.

The court on Monday deferred the hanging of the death row convicts till further order.

The execution had been scheduled for Tuesday at 6 am.

Speaking to ANI, Nirbhaya's mother wondered why the court was "taking so much time to execute its own order to hang the convicts".

"Repeated postponing of the execution shows the failure of our system. Our entire system supports criminals," she was quoted as saying.

Earlier on Monday, the Supreme Court had rejected the curative petition filed by Gupta. He had sought to commute his death penalty to life imprisonment. The apex court had also rejected his application seeking a stay on the execution.

A five-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana dismissed the curative plea, stating that the applications for oral hearing and for stay on the execution had been rejected.

However, later in the day, Gupta had filed a mercy plea before the President.

Announcing the deferment, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana said that the death penalty cannot be imposed pending the disposal of the mercy petition.

"Despite a stiff resistance from the victim's side, I am of the opinion that any condemned convict must not meet his Creator with a grievance in his bosom that the courts of this country have not acted fairly in granting him an opportunity to exhaust his legal remedies," he said.

Gupta is the last of the convicts to file a mercy plea.

Incidentally, President Ram Nath Kovind has already rejected the mercy petitions filed by the three other convicts.

Following that, the Supreme Court has also dismissed pleas filed by two of the other convicts -- Mukesh and Vinay -- challenging the rejection of their mercy pleas.

This is not the first time the date of the execution has been given and then deferred. Earlier, a Delhi court had issued black warrants against the four convicts and sentenced them to death on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar Jail.

This date was later changed to February 1. At that time, it was Vinay Sharma's pending mercy plea before the President that had necessitated a change of date.

March 3 was the next date to be issued. This too had now been cancelled owing to Gupta's plea.

The 2012 gang rapeassault and subsequent death of a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern had created nationwide outrage. Six people had been arrested for the crime, including the four convicts. One of the accused had allegedly commited suicide in prison during the trial. The sixth was a juvenile, and after spending three years in a correctional home, was released in 2015.

(With inputs from agencies)

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