New Delhi: Seven years have gone by since the heinous crime took place but the convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case are still playing with the machinery of the judicial system, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told Delhi High Court on Sunday.
A single-judge bench of justice Suresh Kumar Kait was hearing a plea moved by the Central government and Tihar Jail authorities challenging the stay on the execution of Nirbhaya convicts, which was earlier scheduled to take place on February 1.
"Seven years have gone by and they are still playing with the machinery of the judicial system. Convicts are still trying the patience of the nation. The act so ghastly that it has shaken the conscience of the society," Mehta said during the hearing.
He said that the credibility of the institution and "its own power to execute a death sentence" is at stake here.
Mehta submitted a chart with the detail of the dates convicts filed their legal remedies and said that it "clearly seems there was a deliberate delay on part of the convict and prompt response on part of the institution".
"There is a deliberate, well calculated well thought to design to frustrate the process of law. A gangrape was committed where the convicts inserted a rod in her private parts, pulled out her intestines, and threw her out of the moving bus," he told the court.
The Solicitor General said that the convicts cannot be hanged separately "only during the time when judicial proceedings are ongoing" adding that "once the Supreme Court decides the fate of all convicts in finality, there is nothing barring them from being hanged separately".
He said that according to Delhi Prison Rules in case of co-convicts, the convicts have to be hanged together only if an "appeal or application" is pending, which does not include mercy petitions.
"The law requires a 14 days notice period to be given to the convicts to take care of their affairs before they are hanged. One convict will file some plea on the 13th day and then ask for the death warrant to be stayed against all. They are all acting in tandem," Mehta said.
He said if President grants pardon to convict A in a case, that doesn't mean that there is a change in circumstances for the convict B, whose mercy petition has earlier been dismissed.
Apart from Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, Advocates Kirtiman, Amit Mahajan and Anil Soni were appearing for the Centre, State through Lieutenant Governor and Tihar Jail.
On the other hand, advocates Rebecca John and Vrinda Grover are appearing on behalf of convict Mukesh while advocate AP Singh is appearing for the other three convicts in the case.
Delhi High Court had on Saturday issued a notice to Tihar jail authorities and the Nirbhaya convicts and sought their response on a plea moved by the Centre challenging the stay on their execution.
A Delhi court had last week stayed till further orders the execution of the four convicts -- Akshay Thakur, Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta, and Vinay Sharma -- which was earlier scheduled to take place on February 1.
The case pertains to the gang-rape and brutal murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012, by six people, including a juvenile, in Delhi. The woman had died at a Singapore hospital a few days later.
One of the five adults accused, Ram Singh, had allegedly committed suicide in the Tihar Jail during the trial of the case.