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Nirbhaya rapists to hang on March 20 at 5.30 am, fresh death warrant issued

Nirbhaya rapists to hang on March 20   at 5.30 am, fresh death warrant issued

New Delhi: Four men convicted of gang-raping a Delhi physiotherapy intern, Nirbhaya, in December 2012 will hang at 5.30 am on March 20, a Delhi court ruled on Thursday. Their execution has already been deferred three times.

The most recent date set for their hanging was March 3, but one of them, Pawan Gupta, filed a mercy plea the day before. And like the three other convicts' mercy petitions, his was rejected.

The Delhi government then asked for a fresh date for the convicts' execution, saying all their legal remedies had been exhausted.

The lawyer for the convicts, A P Singh, argued that orders shouldn't be passed today (Thursday). He asked the court for time to ask Pawan Gupta whether he wanted to move the Supreme Court to challenge the President's decision to reject his plea.

Speaking to reporters later, he decried what he called a "judicial killing".

On last Monday, the Patiala House court had refused to hold the execution of the four convicts, who were to be hanged at 6 am on Tuesday. The same day, the court dismissed an application to stay the execution of Akshay Thakur (31), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Sharma (26) and Mukesh Singh (32), who had presented multiple petitions challenging their death sentence. The court, while reserving judgment on Pawan Gupta's mercy petition, tore into the convict's lawyer for filing the petitions at this stage.

The Supreme Court on Thursday made it clear that any delay in the scheduled execution of death sentence of the four convicts on March 20 will see the court itself step in on March 23 to promptly decide the government's appeal for permission to separately hang them to death.

Meanwhile, Nirbhaya's mother, Asha Devi, said she hoped March 20 would be the final execution date.

"The morning of March 20 will be the morning of our lives," said Nirbhaya's mother after the new date of execution was announced. She also said if there is any chance, she would want to see the convicts dying. "While dying, Nirbhaya had asked to ensure that they get such a punishment that similar crime incidents do not take place ever. If there is any chance, I would like to see them die," she said.

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