The 5.30 am execution inching closer, three of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang-rape and murder case had approached the Delhi High Court late this evening for a last minute reprieve, but drew a blank. The judges dismissed the petition, pointing out that there is “No annexure, no memo of parties, there is nothing in this matter, no affidavits, nothing”.

Convicted in the horrific rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student more than seven years ago, Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Kumar Singh, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Singh have been taking turns to file a series of petitions after their first death warrant was issued on January 7. 

Akshay Kumar Singh, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma moved to the higher court after the trial court in Delhi dismissed the petition of for a freeze on the execution early this afternoon. The court said they have exhausted all legal options.  All three had filed another series of petitions in the Supreme Court, which also got dismissed today.

At the High Court, the shortcomings of the petition drew the wrath of the judges, who called it a shoddy job. “Do you have the permission to file this petition?” Justice Manmohan asked the advocate representing the convicts. 

Advocate AP Singh’s response — that making photocopies was not possible due to coronavirus – was scoffed at. “See how open the courts are. You have done three courts today. You can’t say things are not accessible. We are here at 10 pm listening to you,” the judge responded, admonishing the lawyer to take the matter seriously.

Dismissing the petition, the judges said, “Your contentions have been rejected by the Supreme Court. Can we set aside the Supreme Court’s judgement? There will be chaos”.

The execution date of tomorrow was fixed after repeated cancellations as the convicts tried every legal avenue to buy time. Two days ago, three of the four convicts had filed petitions in the trial court asking for a freeze on the execution – which were dismissed. 

The four convicts – along with two others — had gang-raped the young woman in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012. Tortured with an iron rod and thrown off the vehicle, she died on December 29 at a hospital in Singapore.

The main accused, Ram Singh, was found hanging in jail. The other, just a few months short of 18 when the crime was committed, was released after spending three years in a reform home.

The savage assault had stunned the nation and led to multiple changes in how the law treats juveniles involved in serious crimes like rape and murder.

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