The Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday the plea of Mukesh Kumar Singh, one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case, against the dismissal of his mercy petition by President Ram Nath Kovind on January 17.
The trial court has issued black warrants for the execution of all the four convicts -- Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma and Akshay Kumar -- at 6 am on February 1.
As the last-ditch attempt, Mukesh through his counsel on Tuesday sought an urgent hearing on his plea against dismissal of the mercy plea before the top court.
"If somebody is going to be hanged then nothing can be more urgent than this," a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said while assuring Mukesh's lawyer that his plea would be given due weightage by the mentioning officer.
"Execution case will be given top priority," said the bench, which also comprised Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant.
Later in the day, the mentioning officer considered the urgency of Mukesh's plea and ordered its listing before a three-judge bench comprising Justices R Bhanunathi, Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna at 12.30 pm on Tuesday.
Mukesh had moved the mercy plea after the Supreme Court dismissed his curative petition against his conviction and death sentence. The apex court had also rejected the curative petition of another death row convict Akshay, 31.
The other two convicts, Pawan, 25, and Vinay, are yet to file curative petitions before the Supreme Court.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as 'Nirbhaya' (the fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in a Singapore hospital.
Six people -- Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay, Pawan, Ram Singh and a juvenile -- were named as accused. The trial of the five adult men began in a special fast-track court in March 2013.
The prime accused, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in Tihar jail days after the trial began.
The juvenile, who was said to be the most brutal of the attackers, was put in a correctional home for three years.
He was released in 2015 and sent to an undisclosed location amid concerns over a threat to his life. The juvenile, when released, was 20 years old.
Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay and Pawan were convicted and sentenced to death in September 2013.
On Saturday, a Delhi court said that no further directions were required on a plea by the lawyer of the death row convicts alleging that prison authorities were not handing over certain documents required to file mercy and curative petitions, and disposed of the petition.
Additional Sessions Judge Ajay Kumar Jain said the convicts' lawyer can take pictures of the relevant documents, diary and paintings from the Tihar jail authorities.
The court had noted that the jail authorities had already complied with the request made by the convicts by supplying the documents whatever was lying with them.
Delhi court dismisses plea of convict's father
A Delhi court Monday dismissed a plea filed by the father of one of the four death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, challenging the court's order rejecting his complaint questioning the credibility of the sole witness in the case.
Judge A K Jain dismissed the appeal filed by Heera Lal Gupta, father of Pawan Kumar Gupta, saying he appear to be 'desperate and mala fide'.
The court however took into account that his son is one step away from the gallows and did not impose any cost on him.
It said: "The complaint was filed before the trial court for initiation of action for perjury, in view of the tweets of newspaper editor, against the eye witness in the case, however trial has already completed. The complaint therefore rightly dismissed by the trial court via order dated January 6, 2020.
"The acts of complainant who is the father of convict Pawan Kumar Gupta appear desperate and mala fide, however when his son is one step away from the gallows, no costs are required to be imposed. The present revision petition has no merits."
During the hearing, the additional public prosecutor, appearing for the police, told the court that
Pawan was trying to stall the proceedings of execution by moving such petitions through his father without any locus.
Advocate Seema Kushwaha, appearing for the rape victim's mother, said: "The victim is running pillar to post for justice and convicts are inventing one or other procedure to delay the execution."
Advocate A P Singh, appearing for Pawan's father, claimed that Pawan was a victim of media trial and proper hearings were not provided to him.
The sole eyewitness, a friend of the 23-year-old victim, was accompanying her in the bus when the gruesome incident took place and he had also sustained injuries.
A magistrate court had on January 6 dismissed Heera Lal's complaint seeking a first information report against the sole witness in the matter for allegedly giving interviews to various news channels after charging money.
Pawan's father had challenged the magistrate's order in the sessions court.