New Delhi: The Tihar Jail authorities here on Wednesday told the Delhi High Court that "hanging of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape and murder case can't take place on January 22."
"Execution of convicts will surely not take place on January 22. The fate of a death-row convict comes to a finality only after his mercy plea is rejected by the President.
"Also, it can only take place 14 days after the mercy plea's rejection. The prison rules say a 14-day notice must be provided to the convicts after rejection of the mercy plea," said Delhi's standing counsel Rahul Mehra.
Meanwhile, The trial court issued a notice to the State; the hearing is to be held tomorrow at 2pm.
The arguments were presented before a Division Bench, comprising Justice Manmohan and Justice Sangita Dhingra Saihgal, which was hearing a plea filed by Mukesh challenging the death warrant issued against him.
Mehra also opposed the petition terming it premature as the mercy plea was with the Home Ministry of the Delhi government and would be moved to the Lieutenant Governor later in the day.
After hearing the arguments, the Bench refused to set aside the death warrant issued against the petitioner and asked his legal team to move the trial court regarding the latest developments. "Apprise the trial court about the pending mercy plea," the Bench said.
Senior advocate Rebecca John and advocate Vrinda Grover appearing for Mukesh agreed to the observation and said they would approach the Patiala House court soon.
The court observed the trial court while passing the order on January 7 had noted that there was no curative or mercy petition pending in any forum.
The four convicts Akshay, Vinay, Mukesh and Pawan are scheduled to be hanged at 7 a.m. on January 22.
The plea, filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, challenged the issuance of death warrant on the ground that the convict still had the remedy of seeking mercy from the President.
"The petitioner's constitutional right to seek mercy will be rendered infructuous if the execution warrant, dated January 7, is not stayed," Mukesh said in his plea filed through A.P. Singh.
The plea sought directions for setting aside the trial court order and not to give effect to the order for execution of death sentence on January 22.
The 23-year-old victim was gang-raped 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, a minor, appeared before a juvenile justice court, while another committed suicide in Tihar Jail.
Four of the convicts were sentenced to death by a trial court in September 2013. It was confirmed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014 and upheld by the Supreme Court in May 2017, which also dismissed their review petitions.