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Fresh death warrants were issued by a Delhi court on Friday for the execution of the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape-murder case on February 1, shortly after the President quickly rejected the mercy petition of one of them.

Additional Sessions Judge Satish Kumar Arora while ordering that the four men, who are lodged in Tihar jail, be hanged at 6 am on February 1, however, expressed displeasure over the delay in their hanging.

“This case presents a scenario when convicts were given the opportunity to file mercy petition but only one preferred. There might be delay tactics. For how long will this go on? Had death warrant not been issued, the convicts would not have initiated their legal remedies,” he said.

The judge was hearing the plea by Mukesh Kumar Singh for postponement of the date of his execution scheduled for 7 am on January 22 in view of the pendency of his mercy petition.

According to the Delhi government, the Prison Rules mandate a buffer period of 14 days between the day of the rejection of the mercy petition and the day of execution.

Besides Mukesh, 32, Vinay Sharma (26), Akshay Kumar Singh (31) and Pawan Gupta (25) are to be hanged. Judge Arora issued death warrants against them on January 7. Jail authorities have made preparations and staged mock hanging sessions using sandbags with new ropes.

The curative petitions of Mukesh and Vinay have already been dismissed by the Supreme Court, the last judicial recourse to challenge the death penalty awarded to them.

Akshay and Pawan have not filed any curative petitions yet. Also, the two men and Vinay have the option of filing mercy petitions before the President.

Pawan, meanwhile, moved the Supreme Court, against the Delhi High Court verdict rejecting his juvenility claim at the time of offence.

Nirbhaya’s mother expressed disappointment at the postponement of the execution.

“I will fight and I will keep struggling? I will wait,” she said.

The Tihar jail authorities sought issuance of fresh death warrants against the four convicts after Public Prosecutor Irfan Ahmed told the court that Mukesh’s mercy plea was rejected by President Ram Nath Kovind.

Remedies available for Mukesh to escape the gallows were effectively exhausted with officials saying the mercy plea has been rejected by the President and the Union home ministry sending it on to the Delhi government. – PTI

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