The Delhi High Court on Sunday reserved judgment on the plea challenging stay on the execution of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape case.
Justice Suresh Kait said the court will pass an order after all the parties concluded their arguments.
During a special hearing which began at 3 pm Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told Justice Suresh Kait that the convicts have been deliberately delaying the filing of petitions.
'There's a deliberate and well calculated design to derail the process of law", the solicitor general told the court while relaying to it the timeline of the case and also the timeline of the legal remedies availed by the four convicts.
He informed the court that convict Vinay (Sharma) filed review petition after delay of 225 days while Akshay filed the same after a delay of three years, adding that the petition filed by Akshay before the president is still pending.
He said that another convict, Pawan, has still not filed either his curative or mercy petition. Rather, he deliberately filed a delayed application claiming to be a juvenile.
Mehta alleged that the convicts' lawyers were "delaying the inevitable". "The convicts are playing with judicial machinery and trying the patience of the nation", he said.
He asked that the Delhi Prison Rules be interpreted for the word 'application' in the Rules to only mean judicial applications before the Supreme Court and not pendency of mercy petition filed before the president.
Mehta also argued that in case of pendency of mercy petition of convicts, separate executions can be carried out. He argued that the president can have different decisions on the mercy pleas filed by different convicts; he can pardon some, while rejecting the mercy of others. Therefore, the argument for separate hanging is not unfounded, he said.
Appearing for three of the convicts, Akshay Singh, Vinay Sharma and Pawan, advocate AP Singh cited the judgment in the 2014 Shatrughan Chauhan case to argue that no prescribed time is given to execute the death sentence by the apex court and the Constitution. Only in the case of the mercy petition being, 14 days notice is given to the convicts, he said.
He also that the convicts belong to poor, rural and Dalit families. "They can't be made to bear the brunt of ambiguity in law", he said. He also stated that as per Rule 858, all the co-convicts are to be executed together.
Questioning the hurry in the case, he said," Justice hurried is justice buried."
Advocate Rebecca John, appearing on behalf on convict Mukesh, raised preliminary objection on the Centre's plea saying it was not maintainable.
She contended that the trial court order ought to have been challenged in the Supreme Court. She also questioned the Centre's role in the case, saying that the Centre was never party before trial court in the case proceedings. She added that while the government was accusing the convict of delay, it has woken up just two days ago.
"It was the victim's parents who moved the trial court for issuance of death warrants against the convicts. At no point the Central government or the state government approached the trial court to immediately issue death warrants," John contended.
According to LiveLaw, she contended that all the convicts were sentenced through a common order and were also charged for having common intention to hatch a criminal conspiracy"Common sentence order, common execution", she said.
John told the high court that the Centre has moved a plea in the Supreme Court seeking clarification whether co-convicts can be executed separately and this petition is pending before the apex court.
She argued that execution cannot take place till the all the legal remedies are exhausted.
A 23-year-old paramedic student was raped and brutally assaulted on the intervening night of 16-17 December, 2012 inside a moving bus in south Delhi by six persons, before being thrown out on the road. She died on December 29, 2012 in Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital.
One of the six accused in the case, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail. A juvenile, who was among the accused, was convicted by a juvenile justice board and was released from a reformation home after serving a three-year term.
The top court, in its 2017 verdict, had upheld the capital punishment awarded to the convicts by the Delhi High Court and the trial court.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Feb 02, 2020 18:52:12 IST