New Delhi, Feb 5 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday while dismissing the Centre’s plea challenging the trial court order which had stayed the death warrants in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, noted that “the convicts have frustrated the process of law”.
The Centre moved Supreme Court after High Court ruled the four convicts can’t be hanged separately.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait while dismissing the plea said, “Convicts have frustrated the process of law by using delay tactics. I direct the convicts to file any application regarding their remedies within one week from today after which the court expects the authorities to act.”
He further noted, “I have no hesitation in saying that after the review of the convicts were dismissed nobody has even bothered to execute the death warrants. They were waiting for reasons best known to them. All authorities were waiting and sleeping.”
The Centre in its plea filed through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had challenged the January 31 order of Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana of Patiala House Courts.
Rana in his order had said, “Without commenting upon the dilatory tactics adopted by the convicts, suffice it would be to state that seeking redressal of one’s grievances through procedure established by law was the hallmark of any civilised society. The courts of this country cannot afford to adversely discriminate any convict, including death row convicts in pursuit of his legal remedies, by turning a Nelson’s eye towards him.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta while arguing the matter before the High Court had contended that the trial court order provides a perverse and misleading interpretation of Rule 836 of the Delhi Prison Rules.
“This error goes to the root of the issue. It deserves to be stayed. Every convict is enjoying defeating the judicial system in the country. Convicts are exploiting the process of law,” Mehta said.
“There is a deliberate, well calculated, well thought out design to frustrate the process of law. It was a gang rape of a woman, inserting rods in her private parts, pulling out her intestines, and throwing her out of a moving bus,” he added.
The Centre also submitted before the court that the four convicts can be hanged separately. “The execution should be one by one. The rule only says if application of one is pending then execution of all has to be postponed.. but what does ‘application’ mean? It means an application pending before a court. A mercy plea is not an ‘application’,” Mehta had submitted.
Opposing the submissions of the Centre, senior advocate Rebecca John argued that Central government has no locus standi to challenge the stay imposed on convicts’ hanging as it was not a party to the matter in the trial court and has merely superimposed itself in it.
“From 2018 to January 2020, the Union of India was never a party to the case. It is my submission that it has superimposed itself in this matter. What is their locus? We do not know,” she submitted.
On the demand of the piece-meal execution of those convicts who have exhausted their legal remedies, John said, “One common order was passed for all the convicts. The question is can execution take place one by one? When sentencing is common, order is common, then how can this happen?”
She said that her client is entitled to avail all the remedies under the shadow of Article 21 of the Constitution. Article 21 reads: “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to a procedure established by law.”
Mukesh and Vinay have exhausted their legal remedies. However, a decision on Akshay’s mercy plea is pending before the President. Pawan has yet not availed the remedy of mercy petition, which is the last constitutional resort. He has also not availed the remedy of curative petition, which is the last judicial resort.
The 23-year-old woman was brutally gangraped and tortured on December 16, 2012, which later led to her death. All the six accused were arrested and charged with sexual assault and murder. One of the accused was a minor and appeared before a juvenile justice court, while another accused committed suicide in Tihar Jail.
Four of the convicts were sentenced to death by a trial court in September 2013, and the verdict confirmed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014 and upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2017, which also dismissed their review petition in July 2018.