India

Tihar DG: Can't act against December 16 rape convicts, one has filed a mercy plea

Tihar DG: Can't act against December 16 rape convicts, one has filed a mercy plea

With one of the four death row convicts in the December 16, 2012 gangrape case filing a mercy petition before the President of India, Tihar Jail authorities Thursday said “we cannot move against the other three since one mercy petition is pending now”. On October 29, the jail authorities had given them seven days to file a mercy plea or face “proceedings as per law”.

Sandeep Goel, Director General of Delhi Prisons, told The Indian Express: “In a case, even if one convict files a mercy petition, then we have to wait in case of all co-accused persons as well till a decision on the petition is made.”

The four convicts, Mukesh (31), Pawan Gupta (24), Vinay Sharma (25) and Akshay Kumar Singh (33), received a notice from Tihar Jail on October 29 — it was signed by the Superintendent, Central Jail No. 2 — informing them that “all legal remedies in your case, as available in the Constitution of India, have been exhausted except the provision of filing of mercy petition against the capital sentence before the President of India”. And if they do not file a mercy petition within seven days, the “jail administration will initiate further necessary legal proceedings as per law”.

The seven-day period ended November 4.

“Vinay Sharma filed a mercy petition within the seven-day period, which we will now forward to the Home department of the Delhi government. They will then forward that to the President,” Goel said.

Jail authorities told The Indian Express that convict Mukesh said he “doesn’t want to file a petition,” while the other two convicts, Pawan and Akshay, have replied to the Tihar Jail notice. “In the reply, one convict claimed he was a juvenile at the time of the incident. This claim has already been rejected by the lower court. In the reply, he also says that the age claim case is going on in the Delhi High Court. We have checked and that’s not true. The second convict has said he will file a curative petition,” jail authorities said.

On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old woman was gangraped and assaulted on a moving bus in south Delhi by six persons, before being thrown out on the road. She died in a Singapore hospital on December 29, 2012. Accused Ram Singh hanged himself in jail while another, a juvenile, was convicted of rape and murder and given the maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment in a reform facility.

In September 2013, a fast-track court held the remaining four convicts guilty of 13 offences including gangrape, unnatural sexual assault and murder of the woman, and attempt to murder her male friend. On July 9, 2018, the Supreme Court dismissed the pleas of three of the convicts — Mukesh, Pawan and Vinay — seeking review of its 2017 judgment upholding the capital punishment given to them by the Delhi High Court and the trial court. The fourth convict, Akshay, did not file a review plea in the Supreme Court.