New Delhi: Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31) — the four convicted in the Delhi gangrape case — were hanged early Friday morning, seven years after the crime and more than two months since the original date of their death warrant.
Sandeep Goel, DGP (Prison), confirmed that all four were hanged at 5:30am.
This is the first time that four convicts were hanged together on the same platform.
The execution caps months of attempts by the convicts to first commute the death penalty to a life sentence and then delay the execution.
From review petitions, mercy petitions and pleas challenging unfavourable verdicts, the four men chased down every possible judicial avenue, including appeals in the International Court of Justice.
On Thursday, the Patiala House court rejected their plea seeking a stay on the hanging.
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A.P. Singh, the counsel of the convicts, argued that there were cases pending trial against the convicts in other courts, but the argument was dismissed.
In a pre-dawn hearing, barely three hours before the execution, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea by Pawan Gupta against the rejection of his second mercy plea by President Ram Nath Kovind.
Gupta argued that his mercy plea had been wrongly rejected without considering the fact that he was a minor at the time of offence in 2012.
The top court was hearing the petition hours after the Delhi High Court dismissed the plea filed by lawyer A.P. Singh on behalf of three of the convicts challenging the trial court order declining to stay their execution.
In a late Thursday night hearing, the court dismissed the plea saying it was devoid of merits.
#WATCH Asha Devi (mother of 2012 Delhi gang-rape victim) to ANI: Finally the convicts will be hanged, the petition in Supreme Court has been dismissed. I would like to thank all the people of the society, especially our daughters & women. pic.twitter.com/9zKGuYKlQM
— ANI (@ANI) March 19, 2020
Singh had moved two petitions late Thursday night in a last-ditch attempt — one on behalf of Gupta challenging the rejection of his mercy plea, and the second challenging the Patiala House Court’s order not to stay the execution.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court had rejected a plea by Akshay Kumar challenging the dismissal of his second mercy petition by the President.
Another plea by Mukesh Kumar Singh, who had challenged a Delhi High Court order claiming that he was not present in the city on the day of the crime, was also rejected by the Supreme Court.
The combined execution of the four men was delayed three times since 22 January, when the original order was issued.
According to the prison manual, if a death sentence has been given to more than one person in the same case, and if an appeal or an application is made by any one, then the execution of the sentence shall be postponed for all.
With each convict filing different petitions at different points in time, the execution was pushed back until all pending cases were concluded.
The first batch of review petitions and curative petitions, dismissed by the Supreme Court, were filed together. However, the curative petitions and mercy petition were filed separately by all four at a gap of weeks.
Sharma and Singh were the first to file their mercy and curative petitions. This led to the first delay in January.
Then Kumar filed his curative petition while Gupta filed his mercy plea, leading to the execution date being pushed again in February.
On the night of 16 December 2012, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern was gang raped and brutally assaulted in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died a fortnight later in Singapore, where she had been taken to treat her critical injuries.
Six people were arrested for the crime, including a 17-year-old who was tried and convicted under the Juvenile Justice Act. The teen was sentenced to three years in a reform home, and has since been released. He is reportedly serving as a cook somewhere in South India.
Ram Singh, a 33-year-old bus driver, was the other accused in the case but he allegedly committed suicide in Tihar jail days after the trial began.
At the time, the crime had dominated national headlines and triggered an outpouring of public anger over the issue of women’s safety.
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