December 16, 2012, will always be remembered as one of the darkest days in the history of this country. The victim, who later came to be known as Nirbhaya (fearless), boarded a bus from Munirka bus stand (Delhi) late at night where she was brutally gang-raped by six men (including a minor).
The incident shook the entire nation and people came forward to express their disappointment, anger, and rage. Between December 18 and December 22, all the suspects were arrested by Delhi Police.
Nirbhaya, who had incurred fatal injuries, breathed her last on December 29, 2012.
In March 2013, One of the 6 suspects, Ram Singh, took his own life in jail. In September that year, the suspect who was minor was sent to a correction home for 3 years. The remaining 4 convicts were awarded the death penalty by Fast Track Court. But it will be a long road before the execution will be carried out.
Convicts Pawan, Vinay and Akshay were represented by lawyer AP Singh while Mukesh, the fourth convict, was represented by a legal team led by Vrinda Grover.
For years, the defense managed to delay the hanging of the convicts. The law provides several legal remedies to each of the 4 convicts and the defense made sure they use every legal option they had.
AP Singh received a lot of criticism for his blatant exploitation of loopholes in the system.
Here is how the execution was stalled for all these years.
The Nirbhaya case timeline:
March 13: The death penalty is upheld by the Delhi High Court
May 5: The death penalty is upheld by the supreme court.
November 8: Convict Mukesh files review petition in the apex court.
December 15: 2 other convicts, Vinay and Pawan move to the Supreme Court for review of its verdict.
The review pleas of Mukesh, Pawan and Vinay are dismissed by the SC.
February: Nirbhaya’s parents move the trial court for the issuance of death warrants against the convicts.
December 10: Convict Akshay moves plea in Supreme Court for the review of his death penalty.
December 13: Nirbhaya’s mother moves to the apex court opposing the review plea of the convict.
December 18: Akshay’s review plea is dismissed by the SC.
December 19: Convict Pawan’s plea that claimed he was a juvenile at the time of the offense is dismissed by Delhi HC.
A death ‘black’ warrant is signed by the trial court for the 4 convicts to hang on January 22, 2020.
January 14: Curative petitions of Mukesh and Vinay are rejected by the SC. Convict Mukesh files a mercy petition before the President.
January 17: Mukesh’s mercy plea is rejected. New death warrants are issued by the trial court. Convicts to be executed on February 1.
January 25: Mukesh moves to the Supreme Court against the rejection of mercy plea.
January 29: Akshay approaches the Supreme Court with a curative petition. Mukesh’s plea, which challenged the rejection of his mercy plea, is rejected.
January 30: Akshay’s curative plea is dismissed by SC.
January 31: Pawan’s plea, which sought review of the order that rejected his claim of being a juvenile is dismissed by SC. The execution of the black warrants is postponed by the trial; court till further order.
February 1: Centre moves Delhi HC against the order of the trial court.
February 5: Centre’s plea against the order of the trial court is dismissed by the Delhi HC. Akshay’s mercy plea is rejected. HC also directs that the 4 convicts should pursue all the legal remedies within 1 week.
February 6: Akshay’s mercy plea is rejected.
February 7: Tihar’s plea seeking fresh date for the execution is dismissed by the Trial court
February 11: Convict Vinay moves Supreme Court against the rejection of the mercy plea. The apex court issued notice to the death row convicts on the Centre’s appeal against the verdict of the Delhi HC.
February 13: Convict Vinay alleges torture in jail. The order on his mercy review is reserved by SC. Hearing on separate hangings is deferred by the SC. A new lawyer is appointed for Pawan.
February 14: Vinay’s plea against no mercy is dismissed. The argument of mental illness is rejected.
February 17: March 3 is issued as the execution date by the trial court.
February 22: Vinay’s plea for medical treatment is dismissed by the trial court.
February 28: Convict Pawan files curative petition in Supreme Court.
March 2: PIL seeking direction on organ donation by the convicts is dismissed by the SC. The convicts’ plea for a stay on the death warrant is dismissed by the Patiala House court. Convict Pawan files mercy plea.
March 3: Hanging of the 4 convicts is deferred by the trial court for the third time.
March 4: Delhi government moves court seeking fresh date for the execution. Convict Pawan’s mercy plea rejected
March 5: Death warrants for March 20 are signed by the trial court.
March 7: Convict Mukesh’s plea seeking urgent hearing on Monday is rejected by the SC.
March 13: Convict Vinay moves Delhi HC claiming procedural lapse in the rejection of his mercy plea.
March 16: The 4 convicts move to the International Court of Justice. Mukesh’s plea to refile the curative mercy petition is dismissed by SC.
March 17: Convict Akshay writes another mercy plea to the President. Convict Mukesh’s plea seeking quashing of the death penalty is dismissed by the trial court.
March 18: Singh moves Patiala House court seeking a stay on the death warrants. Delhi High Court reserves order on convict Mukesh’s plea claiming absence from Delhi when the incident occurred.
March 19: Pawan’s petition against the rejection of his mercy plea and seeking a stay on execution is dismissed by the Supreme Court. Plea challenging lower court’s refusal to stay on death warrants is dismissed by the Delhi HC.
March 20: The 4 convicts are hanged at 5:30 am. Death confirmed at 6:00 am
‘Justice delayed but not denied’
Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi fought tirelessly for years to get justice for her daughter. On finally getting closure to an exhausting legal battle, she said “We will request the Supreme Court to issue guidelines so that no one can adopt delaying tactics in such cases in future,”