Issuing a fresh date, the Patiala House Court on Thursday ordered that the Nirbhaya rape and murder case convicts are to be hanged till death on March 20, 5:30 AM. Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana has ordered the fresh date of execution against the four convicts. The judge also directed that convicts counsel AP Singh and Ravi Qazi are allowed to meet them in the prison as per the Standard Operating Procedures of the Tihar prison.
Earlier on Wednesday, Advocate Ahmad appearing for the Delhi government argued that the court is not required to issue a notice to the convicts before issuing a fresh date of execution, however, in view of the principles of natural justice, the court has issued a notice to the convicts. The trial court had on February 17 issued fresh date for execution of death warrants for March 3 at 6 am for the four convicts -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) -- in the case. However, the Court had deferred the hanging of the convicts until further notice.
The mercy petitions of three convicts -Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, and Akshay Kumar have already been dismissed by the President. Curative petition of all the convicts have also been dismissed by the Supreme Court. This is the fourth such date after the previous two - January 17 and January 31 and March 3 were deferred by petitions filed by the convicts.
A 23-year-old paramedic student Nirbhaya was gang-raped inside a running bus by six persons on December 16, 2012, in Delhi. The victim was severely assaulted and thrown out on the road along with her male friend and succumbed to injuries a few days later. Out of the six convicts, one reportedly committed suicide in prison, while another, a juvenile, served maximum punishment of three years in a reform home and was set free in 2015. The remaining four rapists were convicted and handed the death penalty by a trial court in 2013, confirmed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014. The Supreme Court upheld the Delhi High Court's verdict in 2017.