New Delhi, (IANS): A Delhi court on Monday ordered that the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case be hanged "by the neck until they are dead" on March 3 at 6 a.m. after observing that deferring the execution any further would be sacrilegious to the victim's rights.
"Article 21 merely guarantees an opportunity to the condemned convicts to exercise their legal rights. However, whether to utilise this opportunity is a matter of choice. The executions were deferred twice... deferring them any further would be sacrilegious to the rights of the victim for expeditious justice," the court observed.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmendra Rana was hearing a petition seeking the issuance of a fresh date for the execution of the death warrants in the case.
The case pertains to the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old girl in the national capital in December 2012.
On January 31, a trial court had stayed "till further order" the execution of the four convicts -- Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31).
Of the four convicts, Pawan has not yet availed the remedy of either curative petition or mercy plea.
"After a lapse of 33 months, Pawan has opted neither to file any curative or mercy petition," the court observed.
Coming down heavily on the convict, the judge comprehended that either Pawan is satisfied with the Supreme Court's order, which had upheld his execution in 2017, or he is merely delaying the court proceedings.
"Convict Pawan cannot be permitted to defeat the ends of justice by simply opting to remain indolent," Dharmendra Rana stated.
During the course of the proceedings, advocate A.P. Singh, appearing for convicts Akshay and Vinay, asserted that the latter was suffering from acute mental illness. He futher added that "death sentence cannot be carried against him."
The court, however, did not find any merit in the contention and discarded it.
The court also appointed advocate Ravi Qazi as the counsel of one of the death row convicts, Mukesh, after he showed unwillingness to be represented by his erstwhile counsel Vrinda Grover.
Ravi Qazi was also appointed the counsel for Pawan last week after his lawyer A.P. Singh discharged himself from the case.
Welcoming the latest court order, Nirbhaya's mother Asha Devi said, "I'm satisfied and happy. I hope that the convicts will finally be hanged on March 3."
Her counsel advocate Seema Kushwaha also exuded confidence and said that the date given by the court is final and the convicts will definitely be hanged on March 3.