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The Supreme Court today allowed the jail authorities to move the trial court in Delhi to seek a fresh date for the execution of the death warrant against the four convicts in the Nirbhaya rape case.
The Court agreed to hear on merits the Centre's plea against the Delhi High Court order that had held that the convicts cannot be executed separately.
The three-Judge Bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna has issued notice to the four convicts and will hear the matter on Thursday, February 13.
The Court also clarified that the pendency of this SLP will not be an impediment when it comes to approaching the trial court for the execution of the death warrant.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told the Court that despite the timeframe of seven days set by the High Court, the fourth convict Pawan had not moved to exhaust his remaining legal remedies. This, Mehta said, was "strategic inaction".
After the fresh date is set by the trial court, if Pawan Gupta chooses to file his mercy plea or a curative petition, the execution of all four will have to be stayed in light of the High Court's ruling, the SG told the Court.
Citing this hypothesis, Mehta prayed before the Court to clarify that pendency of a mercy plea would be a bar on execution only qua the individual, and not with respect to the other co-convicts who have exhausted their remedies.
The Court said that this is a matter which will require a long hearing and will essentially lead to delay in execution. The Court had suggested that considering the fact that no plea remains pending at the moment, the jail authorities may move the trial court.
Mehta cited the observations made in the trial court order, in which it was stated that it would be "sinful to issue death warrant". Mehta added that the High Court having held that executions cannot be separate, the question around simultaneous execution needs go be laid to rest.
The Court thus issued notice to the four convicts and also granted liberty to the jail authorities to seek issuance of fresh death warrant from the trial court.
The matter will be heard next on Thursday, February 13 at 10.30AM.