New Delhi: President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected the mercy petition of Akshay Kumar Singh, one of the four men facing the gallows in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case, Home Ministry officials said on Wednesday.
Akshay Singh filed the petition a few days ago, which has now been rejected, said an official.
Kovind has already rejected the clemency petition of two other accused in the case — Mukesh Singh and Vinay Kumar Sharma.
The development came on the day when the Delhi High Court said all the four convicts have to be executed together, not separately, and dismissed the Centre's plea against the trial court's order staying the execution of their death sentence.
Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, while reading out the operative portion of the decision, directed the convicts to exhaust within seven days all the remedies available to them after which the authorities should act as per law.
The Centre and the Delhi government later on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against the order staying "till further orders" the execution of all the four convicts in the case — Mukesh Singh, 32, Pawan Gupta, 25, Vinay Kumar Sharma, 26, and Akshay Kumar, 31, all of who are lodged in Tihar Jail.
The trial court on January 7 had issued black warrants for the execution of all the four in Tihar jail at 7 am on January 22. But they could not be hanged due to pendency of mercy petition of one of them.
On January 17, the trial court fixed 6 am on February 1 as the hanging date and time.
On January 31, the trial court again stayed the execution as the counsel for three convicts — Pawan, Vinay and Akshay — urged it to adjourn the matter "sine die", saying their legal remedies were yet to be exhausted.
While the President has rejected the mercy pleas of Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay, Pawan is yet to file it.
Except Pawan, the other three convicts have already filed their curative petitions, the last legal remedy available to a person, which have been dismissed by the Supreme Court.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as 'Nirbhaya' (the fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted on the night of December 16, 2012, in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died of her injuries a fortnight later at a Singapore hospital.
The brutality of the crime shook the nation, leading to country-wide protests and a change in India's rape laws.
Other than the four convicts, the perpetrators also included a juvenile and prime accused, Ram Singh, who allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in Tihar after the trial in a special fast-track court began in March 2013.
While the juvenile was put in a correctional home for three years and released in 2015, Mukesh, Vinay, Akshay and Pawan were convicted and sentenced to death in September 2013.
(With inputs from PTI)