New Delhi: Barring a last-minute legal intervention, the stage is now set for the hanging of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case at Jail No. 3 of the Tihar Central Prisons on Friday morning.
So far, there has been no legal bar to the execution of the fourth death warrant that was issued for their hanging by a Delhi court on March 5 this year.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court dismissed a curative petition filed by one of the convicts while a Delhi court rejected a plea seeking a stay on the executions of the four convicts.
Red clothing for all convicts
At the jail, preparations for the hanging had begun again on Monday. Ahead of the hanging, the uniform of all the four convicts – Mukesh Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar Singh (31) – was changed from white to red.
They are all lodged in quarters near the ‘phansi kothi’ (hanging cell) and other inmates have been removed from the surrounding cells. The entire area has been designated a ‘danger zone’ and additional security personnel have been deployed.
Tihar sources said the family members of the convicts have already met them as per the rules.
Third generation hangman on dummy run
A third-generation hangman, Pawan Jallad of Meerut, has been engaged. His grandfather had carried out the hanging of Indira Gandhi assassination convicts Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh and of Ranga and Billa, the convicts in the sensational Sanjay and Geeta Chopra murder case.
Pawan reached the jail on Tuesday and conducted a dummy trial with sandbags and the traditional Manila ropes – that are brought on special order from Buxar jail in Bihar – on Wednesday.
First time four men to hang simultaneously
The last hanging to take place at Tihar was of Parliament attack case accused Afzal Guru on February 13, 2013. That time, in the absence of a trained hangman, the exercise was carried out by jail officials.
The hanging of the Nirbhaya convicts would mark the first occasion when four men would go to the gallows simultaneously at the prison complex. For the hanging, the area Sub Divisional Magistrate, senior jail officials and staff would be required to be present in the jail well before the execution time of 5.30 am.
Incidentally, this is the fourth time since January that such arrangements for hanging of the Nirbhaya case convicts have been made at Tihar. On all three previous occasions, it was postponed on the directions of the trial court as the convicts exercised various legal remedies available to them.
All the four convicts have already exhausted four major appeals available to anyone who is on a death row. They have all filed mercy pleas before the President of India, which were rejected; and they mercy-review petitions in the Supreme Court, which were dismissed; as also curative and review petitions in the apex court that were dismissed.
The last of these petitions, a curative petition filed by Pawan Gupta, was dismissed by the apex court today.
The Nirbhaya case had shaken up the nation and spontaneous protests had erupted across the country following the incident to seek stronger laws for curbing crimes against women.
In January 2013, following suggestions by a judicial committee headed by former Chief Justice of India, J.S. Verma – that took into consideration over 80,000 suggestions – the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013 was promulgated, several new laws were passed, and six new fast-track courts were set up for hearing rape cases.
On February 19, 2013, a Bill was passed by Lok Sabha to replace the ordinance, which had incorporated nearly 90% of the suggestions of the Verma panel.