President Ram Nath Kovind has rejected a mercy plea filed by Mukesh Singh - one of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya case - mere hours after it was forwarded to him by the Union Home Ministry. The petition, which represents Mukesh Singh's last possible appeal before his execution is carried out, was filed Tuesday after the Supreme Court dismissed curative petitions - the last legal appeal - filed by him and Vinay Sharma, another convict.
"The Home Ministry has forwarded the mercy petition of Mukesh Singh to the President. The ministry has reiterated the recommendation of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi for its rejection," a ministry official was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Kumar Singh and Pawan Gupta were to be hanged at Delhi's Tihar Jail at 7 am on January 22, the trial court judge had declared last week, signing a death warrant seven years after a young medical student was gang-raped on a moving bus, tortured and killed.
However, on Thursday, five days before the scheduled execution, Tihar officials asked for a new date, saying the executions could not take place till after all mercy pleas were settled.
The three other convicts have yet to file their respective mercy petitions, following the rejection of which a convict is given a 14-day period of reprieve before the execution.
Mukesh Singh and Vinay Sharma's last legal appeal against their death sentence -- a curative petition -- was dismissed by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday.