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    Nirbhaya case: With hours left for hanging, Pawan Gupta files mercy plea

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    Pawan Gupta, one of the four death row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang-rape-and-murder case, on Monday filed a mercy plea with President Ram Nath Kovind. The move came after a five-justice Supreme Court bench rejected his curative petition earlier on Monday.

    Pawan Gupta’s advocate, A.P. Singh, told a court in the Patiala House Court complex that his mercy petition had been filed. This court had earlier rejected a plea seeking a stay on the execution. The plea was filed by Pawan Gupta and Akshay Singh.

    The four convicts are scheduled to be hanged at 6am on Tuesday.

    The mercy petitions of three convicts—Mukesh, Vinay and Akshay—have already been dismissed by the president. The Supreme Court had earlier dismissed separate pleas filed by Mukesh and Vinay challenging the rejection of their mercy petitions by the president. Akshay has yet to challenge the rejection of his mercy petition.

    A five-judge bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana, which considered the curative plea in-chamber, rejected Pawan’s application seeking stay on the execution of death sentence, which is scheduled for Tuesday.

    In his curative plea, Pawan had sought commutation of his death penalty to life imprisonment. He had also sought a stay on the execution of black warrant issued by the trial court for the hanging.

    The trial court had on February 17 issued fresh date for execution of death warrants for Tuesday at 6am for the four convicts—Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31)—in the case.

    On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern, who came to be known as Nirbhaya (fearless), was gang-raped and savagely assaulted in a moving bus in South Delhi. She died after a fortnight.

    Six people, including the four convicts and a juvenile, were named as accused. Ram Singh, the sixth accused, allegedly committed suicide in Tihar jail days after the trial began in the case. The juvenile was released in 2015 after spending three years in a correctional home.

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