New Delhi: A day after the Supreme Court decided to hear the review plea filed by one of the four convicts in the 2012 Delhi gangrape-murder case, the victim’s mother moved the apex court opposing the plea. In the meantime, preparations are underway at Tihar Jail for the execution of the convicts and it has been reported that while a jail in Bihar has been asked to prepare the ropes, the services of hangmen have been sought from Uttar Pradesh.
In her plea, Asha Devi, the mother of the 23-year-old paramedic student who was given the moniker ‘Nirbhaya’ following the brutal assault, urged a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde not to review the death sentence given to the convict Akshay Kumar Singh in 2017. The matter is scheduled to be heard by a three-judge bench of the apex court on December 17.
Review pleas of three convicts were rejected in July 2018
Earlier, on July 9, 2018, the Supreme Court had dismissed the review pleas filed by the other three convicts – Mukesh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma – in the case as it found no merit in their petition to review the 2017 verdict.
Akshay had not filed his review petition with the other three and only did so recently by moving the apex court. He insisted that executions only kill criminals, not the crime. His lawyer had also argued that the rationale behind awarding the capital punishment when air pollution in Delhi was itself reducing the life expectancy of people.
Six, including a minor, were convicted
The victim, whose parents revealed her identity following her death, was criminally assaulted by six people in a bus in south Delhi on the intervening night of December 16-17, 2012. She sustained grievous injuries and, after battling for life at Safdarjang Hospital and then at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, breathed her last on December 29, 2012.
All the six accused were later convicted. However, one of the convicts, Ram Singh, died by suicide in Tihar Jail in 2013 while another, who was a minor, was sentenced to three years and spent the term in a rehabilitation centre.
New prison rules to impact death-row convicts in this case
Meanwhile, the Times of India quoted former Tihar Jail law officer Sunil Gupta as saying that jail authorities would now have to follow new prison rules for execution that were drafted after the execution of parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. The new prison rules, that came into force in 2018 on the basis of a petition by Shatrughan Chauhan, allow the death row convicts to meet their family members who will have to be clearly informed about the rejection of the mercy please in writing well in advance before the hanging.
As per these rules, families must be informed of death sentences in a red envelope during the 14-day period and the acknowledgement and date of the receipt of the envelope are to be recorded into a register maintained by the superintendent. During this 14-day period, Gupta was quoted as saying that the convicts would also be allowed to prepare their will and hand over their personal belongings under the supervision of the jail superintendent.
A death row convict, as per the new rules, is also required to be shifted to a brightly lit, solitary confinement cell where they stay under the watch of the warden. The jail staff, he said, also has to make preparations for anxiety and depression that the convicts may experience before their hanging.
Buxar jail get order for preparing 10 ropes for hanging
It has also been reported recently that after a gap of nearly six years, the Buxar Central Prison in Bihar, which specialises in making Manila ropes for hanging, has been given an order to prepare 10 such ropes. The development assumes significance considering a jail official was quoted as saying that “such ropes for the hangmen are not prepared normally unless there is concrete demand“.
A group of eight to ten prison weavers have also been tasked with making ropes with the help of a “power loom through twist and torque technique using J-30 cotton.” The jail officials were quoted in the report as saying that each rope is around 16 feet long and takes around three days to prepare.
Ahead of executions, jails usually place an order for extra ropes as they also need to conduct a weight test on a dummy before the actual execution.
Tihar jail looks to UP for a hangman
Incidentally, Tihar Jail, where all the convicts in the case are lodged, has not had a hangman for a long time. For the last conviction in Tihar in 2013 of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru, the hanging was carried out by jail officials. However, the jail does not have many willing officers this time to do the job and is, therefore, looking at other states, primarily Uttar Pradesh, to avail the services of professional hangmen.
While there was speculation earlier that hangings would take place around December 16-17, the anniversary of the crime, since the matter is still before the Supreme Court and under the new prison rules, it is every death-row convict’s right to be given a 14-day period for preparing for the execution as per the law.