SC defers to Feb 11 hearing on Centre’s plea against HC verdict on Nirbhaya convicts

New Delhi, February 7

The Supreme Court on Friday deferred to February 11 hearing on the Centre’s appeal against the Delhi High Court’s verdict dismissing its plea challenging the stay on execution of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case.

“Let the one-week time (given by the high court to convicts) be over. May be all options will be exhausted by then. We’ll consider then…,” a three-judge Bench headed by Justice R Banumathi told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

The Bench turned down Mehta’s request for issuance of notice to the four convicts awaiting the gallows and posted the Centre’s appeal for separate hangings of Nirbhaya convicts for hearing on February 11 at 2 pm.

The Centre has challenged the Delhi High Court’s order passed on Wednesday that all the four convicts had to be executed together and not separately. The HC had, however, set a week’s deadline for them to avail of their remaining legal remedies. If the convicts choose not to make any type of petition in seven days from now, the institutions/authorities concerned would deal with the matter, as per the law, without further delay, it said.

During Friday’s hearing, Mehta insisted that eventually the Supreme Court would have to lay down the law on the issue. He said the convicts were abusing the legal loopholes.

Mehta said that out of the four convicts, all remedies had been exhausted by three and only Pawan had chosen not to avail of any remedy.

“Are the authorities required to wait indefinitely? Can a calculated attempt to delay matters create perpetual uncertainty over execution?” Mehta wondered as he pointed out that Pawan’s review petition was discussed in July 2018.

“Nobody can be compelled to use legal remedy. It is for them to decide…The Delhi High Court has now given them one week to avail of all possible legal remedies,” the Bench said.

The 23-year-old paramedic student was brutally gang-raped on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012, inside a running bus in south Delhi by six men and severely assaulted before being thrown out on the road. She died on December 29, 2012, at a hospital in Singapore.

Read more