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Nirbhaya case: Delhi High Court dismisses convict Mukesh Singh’s plea challenging death warrant, says nothing wrong with trial court’s January 7 order

The High Court also noted that the Supreme Court of India (SC) has rejected the appeal, review and curative pleas of the convict.

The Delhi High court Wednesday declined to entertain the plea of one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, Mukesh Singh, against the death warrant but gave him the liberty to challenge the same in the sessions court.

Refusing to interfere with the trial court January 7th order, a Division Bench of Justices Manmohan and Sangita Dhingra Sehgal opined that there was no error in trial court’s order issuing death warrant against convict Mukesh in Nirbhaya case.

The High Court also noted that the Supreme Court of India (SC) has rejected the appeal, review and curative pleas of the convict.

Convict Mukesh’s lawyers have approached the trial court and moved an application apprising the court about the mercy petition moved by him and seeking postponement of execution date (January 22). The trial court, in turn, has issued notice to State, saying hearing to be held tomorrow at 2 pm. Court has also sought response from parents of 2012 Delhi gangrape victim.

Earlier in the day, during the hearing, the Aam Aadmi Party led-Delhi government standing counsel (criminal) Rahul Mehra told the bench that now that one of them has filed a mercy plea, the execution of none of the four can be carried out on January 22 as per the Prison Rules. He said that since Mukesh has moved a mercy plea, as per the rules they have to wait for the other co-convicts to exhaust their mercy pleas as well.

Quoting prison rules, the Kejriwal government told the court that they are duty-bound to wait for convict’s mercy plea to be decided for executing the death warrant.

To this, the bench said, “Then your rule is bad if you cannot take action till all the co-convicts have moved mercy plea. There has been no application of mind. The system is suffering from cancer.”

As per reports, Advocate Rahul Mehra, the standing counsel for the Tihar Jail authorities stated that ‘Execution of convicts (2012 Nirbhaya case) will surely not take place on January 22’. He added that the execution can take place only 14 days after the final mercy plea has been rejected by the president. The Tihar jail authorities have reportedly conveyed that they are duty-bound to serve a 14-day notice to the convict after the rejection of their mercy plea.

In response to the submission by prison authorities, the court said asked the authorities to put the house in order. “Your house is in disarray. The problem is people will lose confidence in the system. Things are not moving in the right direction. The system is capable of being exploited and we see a stratagem to exploit the system, which is oblivious about it,” the court said.

Apart from pulling up the prison authorities, the court expressed displeasure at the delay in filing curative and mercy pleas by Mukesh after the Supreme Court in May 2017 dismissed the appeals of the four convicts against their conviction and death sentence.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the curative petitions filed by two of the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya case, Mukesh and Vinay Sharma, challenging the May 2017 judgment of the court that had upheld their conviction and death sentence.

Immediately after the Supreme court rejected the curative petitions, Mukesh had filed his mercy plea before the President.

As far as the status of Mukesh’s mercy petition is concerned, Mehra informed the Court that it is presently with the Home Department which will forward the same to the LG Office. The file will then be sent to the Home Ministry which will forward it to the President.

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