A bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna is expected to pass orders at around 2 pm today on Sharma’s plea. The bench heard arguments for nearly two hours on behalf of Sharma and the Union of India and NCT of Delhi.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Friday (February 14) give its verdict on Centre’s plea seeking separate execution of four convicts in 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case and asked the convicts to file their counter reply by then. The court will also pronounce order on convict Vinay Sharma’s plea challenging rejection of his mercy petition by the President alleging that it was done in a ‘mala fide’ manner.

A bench of Justices R Banumathi, Ashok Bhushan and AS Bopanna is expected to pass orders at around 2 pm today on Sharma’s plea. The bench heard arguments for nearly two hours on behalf of Sharma and the Union of India and NCT of Delhi.

Sharma, one of the four convicts on death row in the 2012 case, moved the apex court on February 11, challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the president and claimed the ‘hurried rejection’ was ‘mala fide’ and violated the letter and spirit of the Constitution. He also sought commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment claiming that he has ‘developed mental illness’ inside the prison due to the alleged ‘torture and ill-treatment’.

He alleged in his plea that ‘public statements’ made by ministers at the Centre as well as in the Delhi government supporting his execution had ‘pre-judged the outcome of his mercy petition’, and there also appears to be ‘non-application’ of mind on the part of the President in rejecting his mercy plea.

“This must also be considered in light of the hurried rejection of the mercy petition by the President on January 31, within 48 hours of filing of the petitioner’s mercy petition. Therefore, the decision of rejection of petitioner’s mercy petition is mala fide and therefore violates the letter and spirit of the Constitution,” said the plea.

Advocate AP Singh appearing for Sharma argued that his client’s mercy petition was rejected by the president in a ‘mala fide manner and all relevant records were not produced before him. He said Sharma was subjected to torture, put in solitary confinement and due to trauma suffered in jail, he has mental illness. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Union of India and NCT of Delhi, opposed Singh’s argument and said the President has examined all relevant records and due process under the law was followed in rejection of Sharma’s mercy petition.

Mehta placed before the court a medical report of February 12 of Sharma and said he was found to be medically fit. Singh alleged that the Delhi Lieutenant Governor and home minister had not signed the recommendation for rejection of his mercy plea. The bench rejected Singh’s request to peruse recommendation for rejection of mercy plea.

The bench rejected Singh’s request to peruse recommendation for rejection of mercy plea. It perused the record and said they had signed the recommendation for rejection of his mercy petition.

The apex court had earlier dismissed a plea filed by Mukesh Kumar Singh, another death row convict in the case, challenging the rejection of his mercy petition by the President.

The trial court had on January 31 stayed ’till further orders’ execution of the four convicts in the case — Mukesh Kumar Singh (32), Pawan Gupta (25), Vinay Kumar Sharma (26) and Akshay Kumar (31), who are lodged in Tihar Jail.

Pawan has not yet filed a curative petition — the last and final legal remedy available to a person which is decided in-chamber. Pawan also has the option of filing a mercy plea.