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“Make masks not gallows”, lawyer of Nirbhaya gangrape and murder convicts make bizarre comments, calls the case a media trial

Ever since the mercy petition of Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma were rejected by the President, the lawyers of them have been using one delaying tactic after another to postpone their hanging

As only a few hours remain before the convicts in Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case are executed, unless the courts grant yet another stay, the lawyer of the convicts have not stopped trying to save their lives. Today lawyer AP Singh, who is claiming that one of the convicts Pawan Kumar Gupta was a juvenile at the time of the gruesome crime, called the entire case a media trial, and made a bizarre comment that govt should be making masks instead of hanging ropes.

AP Singh made the comments while talking to reporters after the curative petition filed by Pawan Gupta was dismissed by the Supreme Court today. Pawan had filed the curative petition challenging the Supreme Court order dismissing his earlier review petition making the same claim.

A visibly upset AP Singh said, “the curative petition of Pawan Kumar has been dismissed, now we will get the order, after getting the order we will see, you give us the order, it is a media trial case, so you only give us the order. We will see what happened to Pawan’s juvenility, has the Supreme Court made a case against his father and school also. If the documents showing him as juvenile are wrong, if he is not juvenile, then there should be action against them. But as nothing has been ordered, this means they have agreed that the documents are correct, Pawan was juvenile at the time of the incident. But the court is not saying that due to media pressure.”

A P Singh also accused the courts of being biased, as he said that courts already make decisions before hearing them. Replying on his next step, he said, “After we get the order, we decide on filing something. First, we will read the order, actually what happens in our petitions is that order is typed before the petition is filed, it is already readied and you people get it.”

Read- Nirbhaya’s mother breaks down in court, says convict will continue to use delay tactics after court offer legal aid to one of the convicts

When a reporter asked that in earlier cases execution was done immediately after the second mercy petition was rejected, so how can he expect favourable verdict, the lawyer said that it is unfortunate the convicts are being compared with terrorists. He said that rapist-murderers are not hard-core criminals, not habitual or professional offenders, and Pawan was just a kid of sixteen and a half years at the time of the crime. He said, “you are making hanging ropes from threads, ropes, but not being able to make masks for the corona of nature. Do not buy hanging ropes, buy masks to protect from corona”.

When one reporter asked how can he link the case with coronavirus, he said there is a link because injustice is being done. That is why today Supreme Court is closed, people are not able to make photocopies, take printouts, do attestations.

Ever since the mercy petition of Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma were rejected by the President, the lawyers of them have been using one delaying tactic after another to postpone their hanging. As the death warrants are issued giving a time of fourteen days, they have been filing petitions separately. Every time a petition of one convict is rejected, another one files a petition, starting the process all over again. But now seems they have almost exhausted all the opportunities of legal review, as no court have stayed the death warrant issued by a Delhi court this time.

The four convicts in 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case were sentenced to death by a trial court in September 2013, and the verdict was confirmed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014. After that, the convicts had approached the Supreme Court, which constituted a bench to hear the matter over one and a half year later.  The trial court judgement was upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2017. The apex court had also dismissed their review petition in July 2018.

After that, the convicts took their time in filing mercy petitions with the president of India. All of them had filed mercy petitions separately, which were rejected by the president. In November 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed a review petition from Akshay pleading for mercy. In January 2019, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court rejected the curative petitions filed by Vinay and Mukesh.

Following that, a death warrant was issued by a Delhi court on 7th January, setting the execution date as 22 January. After that Mukesh filed a mercy petition with the President, which was rejected on 17th January, but before that the execution was stayed due to pendency of the mercy plea. On the same day, the Delhi court issued a second death warrant for 1st February, allotting the mandatory gap of 14 days. On 17th itself, Pawan filed a petition in Supreme Court challenging the Delhi Court order which has rejected his claim that he was minor at the time of the crime. The Delhi HC stayed the execution on 31st January as the convicts had not exhausted their all legal options yet.

On February 17th, a third death warrant was issued for 3 March, and the fourth death warrant was issued on 5th March, setting the date of hanging as 20th March. Every time death warrant was issued, the Tihar Jail authorities have been making arrangement for the hanging. Pawan Jallad, a hangman from Meerut, reached Tihar jail on 17th for the fourth time in three months in this regard. The Jail authorities have already prepared the gallows, and dummy hanging took place on Wednesday to make sure that everything goes well on the day of execution. According to reports, the jail has procured 8 manila ropes, 4 to use and rest 4 to keep as standby.

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