On one hand, the Tihar Jail administration has agreed to the hanging of the Nirbhaya rape and murder convicts on February 1, 2020 at 6am, while on the other hand, in yet another attempt to delay the hanging, the lawyer of the convicts Advocate AP Singh has sent the mercy petition of the convict Vinay to be presented to the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, for consideration.
Now the question is whether the date of hanging will be postponed again like it happened earlier when it was postponed from January 22 to February 01, 2020. Answering this question, the lawyer of the accused, AP Singh, in conversation with Law Street Journal Editor Kshipra Srivastava:
Law Street Journal- Nirbhaya's case is being watched by the whole nation. The date of hanging is changing frequently. People are losing their faith in the justice delivery mechanism of the country. Do you take responsibility for the delay in the decision given by the Supreme Court and the President?
AP SINGH - I am not delaying the decision but only providing legal remedies for my clients. We are doing all the work under the provisions of the law provided in the Constitution of the country. We are duty bound for that. We are working on the basis of the Constitution of India, prison rules and Supreme Court’s landmark judgments.
Law Street Journal - The Supreme Court had set the date of execution on January 22, after which you got it extended to February 1 using various legal gimmicks, now today you have filed another curative petition and a mercy petition. So is it right to delay court decisions repeatedly?
A.P SINGH - There will be a delay in decisions because the Supreme Court or the President are not Gods, whose decisions cannot be wrong. Mistakes can have the worst of consequences therefore, efforts should be made to work on them.
Law Street Journal - As far as the provisions of law are concerned, you will make all the efforts there, but don't you think that there should be a change in the law for the punishment of such crimes as the Center has also demanded before the Supreme Court?
AP SINGH - Central Government can get the changes done, media can seek changes to be done and so can the public, whoever gets it done, it’s good only. But if a change is actually brought about, it should be done for everyone, not just for this particular case because in this case there was media pressure, public pressure and political pressure. So not only in this case, but it should be done keeping in mind the fact that it will impact everyone on whom such changed law is applicable, I would also tell His Excellency the President of the country that he should not adopt the formula of pick and choose. Make the decision based on what is written in the mercy petition.
Law Street Journal - By filing mercy petitions one after the other, you are delaying the death penalty.
AP SINGH - Is it wrong? Whether the laws of the country, Article 72 of the Constitution of India or Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar's policy which is behind the making of the constitution, all wrong? Do you want to violate these laws? Do you want to go against the landmark judgments of the Supreme Court? Do you want to make the decisions of the Supreme Court a joke? Do you want to destroy the dignity of the President?
Law Street Journal - But the joke of all these laws is being made by you somewhere. Because on your last mercy petition, the President had clearly said that mercy petitions in such cases should not be brought before the President. Even the curative petition was dismissed and yet you are appearing before the court, repeating the same procedure?
AP SINGH - Then make the law as per these requirements. If you get it passed in the Parliament, then there won’t be any problem. Neither will there be any laws, nor would law students be taught those laws. Neither will we study such laws nor will we go before the court again under those laws.
Law Street Journal - Why is whole process being repeated one by one, why not all the legal remedies are availed at once, for all the four convicts?
AP SINGH - We are advancing the legal process as soon as the documents are becoming available to us for filing. You are demanding to hang four people, you have to be patient and listen to us, in fact, you will be forced to listen to us. It should not happen that one hasty decision proves to be a big black stain on the unblemished reputation of the Supreme Court.