Execution Day Decided, But Nirbhaya Convicts Still Have Options   

Is there a possibility that their hanging could be delayed? Yes, in this case, it exists.

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The execution date of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case has been announced. The verdict has come seven years after the incident.

All the four convicts – Mukesh, Akshay Kumar Singh, Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta will be hanged at 7 am on 22 January in Tihar Jail. After the death warrant for the four convicts was issued, Nirbhaya’s mother said, “Today is a very big day in our lives,” adding that “my daughter has got justice”.

This judgment will empower all women and build people's trust in the judicial system,' she said.

Will There Be a Delay in the Hanging of the Convicts?

The Quint’s legal correspondent Vakasha Sachdev explains the possibilities:

The court has issued death warrants for the four convicts and said that they will be hanged on 22 January. Is there a possibility that their hanging could be delayed?

Yes, in this case, it exists, because whenever a death warrant is issued, the convicts are given two weeks to file some last petitions, like the mercy petition to the President or a curative petition, which is filed in the Supreme Court.

In this case, the decision was announced on 7 January and the hanging is on 22 January, so the 14-day period has been taken into consideration. The problem here is that many of these petitions have not been filed yet – the curative petitions of the convicts, which is the last resort, where they say the whole process of conviction and sentencing is wrong and it needs to be overturned.

Two of the petitioners have not filed the mercy petitions to the president asking him to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment. One of the persons still has the option of review petition but he had earlier said that he will not file a review petition.

So, the main point is that since there are still the options of mercy petitions and review petitions, the Supreme Court can put a stay on the order to hang them and the process may get delayed.

The option of a curative petition is given in the judicial system so that there’s no injustice to anyone. The hearing of the curative petition happens inside the judge’s chamber – and it is done on the basis of Rupa Ashok Hurra vs Ashok Hurra and Anr (2002).

What Is a Death Warrant?

In the matter of criminal justice, there’s a law – Code of Criminal Procedure, Form No 42 that mentions death warrants. The court issues the same form while giving death warrants. It is addressed to the jail in charge.

The warrant then identifies the convict who has been sentenced to death, the case in which s/he was convicted, the day s/he was awarded the death penalty and the high court that confirmed capital punishment.

Then, it is written: “Carry the said sentence into execution by causing the said [name of convict] to be hanged by the neck until he be dead...”

It is also written that the form be submitted to the court as evidence that the execution has taken place.

Then, it is sent to the jail administration, which executes the sentence at the mentioned time and date. It is correct that a proper judicial process is followed before anyone is sentenced to death.

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