The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on Friday (7 February) urged the Supreme Court to lay down a law in the execution of death sentence, as the convicts in the Nirbhaya case were making a mockery of the process.
The Supreme Court posted the Centre's plea to 11 February when the one-week time given by the Delhi High Court to the convicts to exhaust legal remedies will expire.
A bench headed by Justice R Banumathi and comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and A S Bopanna held a brief hearing on the Centre's plea challenging the Delhi High Court order dismissing its petition which had challenged the Patiala House Court order staying execution of the four convicts.
The High Court also ruled that all the convicts should be hanged together and not separately. The Centre has challenged this too. Mehta said the bench would have to lay down the law whether the convicts in a case can be hanged separately or not.
The bench did not heed to Mehta's request to issue notice to the convicts. The Centre reiterated if notices were not issued, then it would further delay the matter. Instead, the bench replied that during the next hearing on the matter, it may consider Centre's contention.
"Ultimately, this court will have to lay down a law. Nation's patience is being tested. We succeeded partly in High Court but it was not enough. Although, the High Court ruled that the mercy plea is not a judicial application, but it refused to allow separate execution of the convicts", contended Mehta before the apex court.
The Centre is seeking to execute those convicts in the Nirbhaya case who have exhausted all their legal and constitutional remedies. Out of the four convicts, three have exhausted all legal remedies.
Only one convict is left to file a mercy petition before the President and the Centre says that he is deliberately delaying it.
Mehta told the bench Mukesh Kumar Singh, one of the four convicts, has exhausted all his legal remedies. Also, the President has already rejected the mercy pleas of Akshya Kumar and Vinay Kumar Sharma, but the fourth convict Pawan Gupta is yet to file a curative petition in the top court, and the mercy plea before the President.
Mehta told the bench it is apparent that Pawan has chosen not to file a curative or a mercy petition. "Should the authorities wait endlessly," Mehta argued. The court replied: "Nobody can be compelled to take remedy challenging the death sentence if one chooses not to."
Mehta vehemently argued there is probability the convict may not exhaust the legal remedies at disposal, and as a consequence, the others, citing delay in execution, may move the top court seeking commutation of the death sentence.
The bench replied to Mehta, "The High Court has given them a week's time. This is amply to protect you."
Mehta reiterated issuing notice to the accused. The court replied, "Let them come to this court on Monday and let them say what they want."
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)