Delhi gang rape convict Pawan Gupta files curative plea in SC against death sentence
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Delhi gang rape convict Pawan Gupta files curative plea in SC against death sentence

Pawan Gupta is the only one among the four convicts to have not exhausted all their legal remedies. Despite a seven-day deadline set by Delhi High Court for him to avail his legal options, Gupta hadn’t filed either a curative petition or a mercy petition so far.

Death row convict Pawan Kumar Gupta has filed a curative petition before the Supreme Court four days before his scheduled execution along with three others in the Delhi gang rape and murder case. Gupta’s curative petition pleads his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment.

Gupta’s curative petition is likely to cast a fresh shadow on the death warrant signed for execution of all the four convicts including Gupta on March 3. The convicts’ execution has already been deferred on two previous occasions due to the pendency of legal proceedings in the case.

Pawan Gupta was the only one out of the four convicts to have not exhausted all his legal remedies, despite a seven-day deadline granted by the Delhi High Court for the purpose. Gupta hadn’t filed either a curative petition or a mercy petition till Friday and his counsel had argued that he wasn’t aware of the time frame set for doing so.

Gupta’s petition comes at a time when Centre is seeking Supreme Court’s approval for hanging the Delhi gang rape convicts separately in its challenge of a Delhi High Court order that ruled against it. Centre has accused the convicts of defeating the ends of justice by adopting delaying tactics.

The four convicts were first supposed to be hanged on January 22 but the execution of the death warrant had to be stayed. The second death warrant set the date of hanging as February 1 but had to be stayed, too, in light of mercy petitions and appeals by one or the other convict.

The Delhi High Court had ruled that the death warrant of all convicts in the case should be executed together and convicts cannot be hanged separately as the Delhi prison rules do not state whether when the mercy petition of one convict is pending, the execution of the other convicts in the same case can take place.

Finally when a seven-day deadline given to the convicts by Delhi High Court to utilize legal options lapsed, a fresh death warrant was issued on February 17 to hang all the four convicts – Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Kumar Singh, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur at 6 am on March 3.

All the convicts were sentenced to death by a Delhi court in 2013 after they were found guilty of brutally raping and murdering a 23-year-old paramedic student on a moving bus on December 16, 2012 in Delhi.