If somebody is going to be executed on Feb 1, then the matter is of top priority: Chief Justice on Nirbhaya convict’s plea

New Delhi: The petition of one of the four Nirbhaya convicts challenging rejection of mercy should be listed on “top priority” if execution is on February 1, Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said on Monday.
Convict Mukesh Singh’s lawyer had asked the court to list his petition challenging the President’s rejection of his mercy plea “urgently”.
“If somebody is going to be executed on February 1, then the matter is of top priority,” said the Chief Justice, asking the lawyer to approach the court registry.
The petition filed on Saturday asked for the death warrant for the February 1 hanging of the convicts to be cancelled.
Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Singh and Pawan Gupta are to hanged at 6 a.m. on Saturday. Their last-minute petitions have been widely seen as desperate attempts to stall their hanging for the 2012 gang-rape and murder that left the nation shocked and grieving.
The curative petitions of two of the convicts were rejected earlier this month and their death warrant was signed for January 22. But at the eleventh hour, Mukesh Singh filed a mercy petition, which meant that the Delhi government had to seek a fresh date for their execution.
After President Ram Nath Kovind dismissed Mukesh Singh’s mercy plea, a new date was announced.
A Delhi court on Saturday dismissed the petition filed by the lawyers of the convicts alleging the Tihar prison authorities were not handing over documents required to file mercy and curative petitions, news agency PTI reported. This was after the prosecutor told the court that the convicts were adopting “delaying tactics”.
The government last week asked the Supreme Court for a change in guidelines in death row cases so convicts cannot keep delaying the sentence by exploiting legal options. The current rules are skewed towards convicts and allows them to “play with the law and delay execution,” the centre said in its petition.
The 23-year-old Delhi medical student was gang-raped and tortured with an iron rod on a moving bus before being thrown off the vehicle on December 16, 2012.
Six men were arrested. One man was found hanging in his jail cell and the sixth, the youngest, just short of 18 at the time, was released after three years in a reform home.