One of the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya rape and murder case, Mukesh Kumar (32), today submitted a mercy petition to the Tihar jail authorities against his pending capital punishment. His mercy petition would now be sent to the Delhi government, then the Ministry of Home Affairs and finally the President for review.
This might be seen as a delaying tactics by Mukesh, who along with the other three convicts – Vinay Sharma (26), Akshay Kumar Singh (31) and Pawan Gupta (25) – is scheduled to be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail as a Delhi court had issued their death warrants on January 7.
The death warrant has to be executed in 14 days, according to the order, and the convicts have this period to use exercise their remedies.
Mukesh might have resorted to this last resort since the Supreme Court refused to stay his execution while dismissing a curative petition filed by him and another accused, Vinay Sharma, against their conviction and capital punishment, earlier in the day today. The five-judge bench comprising of Justices N V Ramana, Arun Mishra, R F Nariman, R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan upheld the convictions and confirmed the death penalties handed to the four men.
A curative petition is the last to last legal option against the death sentence.
All the four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case will be executed together at Tihar jail, where officials had started preparing a month ago, the court had said on Tuesday.
The four adult accused were convicted by the trial court in September 2013, and was awarded a death sentence. The High Court had upheld that verdict in March 2014. In the same year, the Supreme Court had stayed their execution until their appeal was heard by the apex court.
In May 2017 the Supreme Court had rejected their appeal against the death sentence, and in 2019 the review petitions were also dismissed. Subsequently, the president had rejected their mercy plea on the recommendation of the Home Ministry.
Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur were convicted of brutally raping and murdering a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, nicknamed as Nirbhaya by media, on December 16, 2012. The fifth convict was a minor, and he was released after spending 3 years in a juvenile home. The sixth person involved in the crime and also the main accused, Ram Singh was found dead during the trial period, who had allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail on March 11, 2013.