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In an order passed at around 3:30 AM, the Supreme Court today dismissed the plea filed by the convicts in the Nirbhaya case for stay of execution.
With all their remedies exhausted, the Nirbhaya convicts will now be executed at 5:30 AM.
The order was passed by a Bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan, and AS Bopanna.
Advocate AP Singh, appearing for convict Pawan Gupta, made last ditch submissions before the Court when the hearing began at around 2:45 AM.
His arguments included the claims that that various documents pertaining to Pawan Gupta's age were concealed from the authorities, that the trial court could not have rejected the plea for stay of execution today when a plea challenging rejection of Akshay's mercy plea remained pending before the Supreme Court, and that Pawan Gupta's FIR against Mandoli jail, where he was allegedly tortured, is pending.
The Bench, however, refused to buy any of these arguments, noting that the same submissions were made in previous rounds of litigation. Justice Bhushan said,
"You're effectively asking us to review the judgment"
Justice Ashok Bhushan
Justice Banumathi added that the material being argued on claim of juvenility has been considered by the Court earlier, and that the claim cannot be raised again and again after being rejected
At one point, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought the Court's permission to make submissions. However, the Court told Mehta that it was unnecessary.
Advocate Shams Khwaja also made submissions on behalf of the convicts. He said that there is a possibility that one of the four convicts may or may not have been part of the premeditated crime.
After hearing the submissions, the Bench began dictating its order at around 3:30 AM.
It held that the Supreme Court has taken a consistent view that the scope of judicial review against the rejection of mercy plea by President is very limited. Further, the petitioner was not right to claim that the plea of juvenility was not considered by the courts properly.
The Bench added that alleged torture, if any, in the prison cannot be a ground to challenge rejection of mercy plea by the President in exercise of his power under Article 72 of the Constitution.
With these observations, the Court dismissed the plea filed by Pawan Gupta challenging rejection of his second mercy plea, thus bringing an end to the litigation surrounding the Nirbhaya case.
Nirbhaya's mother, Asha Devi, who made her way to the Supreme Court for the hearing, thanked the judges for their verdict.
[Watch the video]
After holding a late night hearing, the Delhi High Court in the wee hours of March 20 dismissed the petition filed by the death row convicts in the Nirbhaya case seeking a stay on the execution of the death warrant against them.
On March 19, an Additional Sessions Court had dismissed the applications by three convicts - Vinay, Akshay and Pawan - for a stay on the execution of death warrant, on the ground that they were "bereft of merits".
Yesterday, the Supreme Court had dismissed pleas filed by convicts Mukesh and Akshay Singh.
On May 5, 2017, a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court comprising then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices R Banumathi and Ashok Bhushan confirmed the death penalty for all the four accused in the Nirbhaya case.
A slew of litigation before various fora followed, culminating in hearing held during the wee hours of March 20.
Nearly eight years ago, a total of six persons were arrested for the brutal gang rape of medical student "Nirbhaya", who eventually succumbed to her injuries.
The main accused Ram Singh committed suicide in the Tihar jail while the juvenile accused was sentenced to three years at a reform home. The remaining four accused were sentenced to death by Additional Sessions Judge. Their appeals were dismissed by the Delhi High Court, which eventually led to the appeal in Supreme Court.