The apex court has extended the stay on the execution of four Veerappan associates by six months.
Their mercy petitions pending since 2004 were rejected earlier by Prez Pranab Mukherjee. Convicted of killing 22 policemen and forest officials in a landmine blast in Karnataka, they were awarded life imprisonment but the Karnataka government filed a petition against it, demanding capital punishment for them.
Their lawyer had requested an urgent hearing at the Chief Justice’s residence, pleading that the four men would be hanged at Karnataka jail on Sunday. But the court rejected the appeal saying that there was proof to suggest that an execution date had been fixed.
The bench will wait for the judgment of the other bench, which also heard a plea for commutation of the death sentence. The apex court has adjourned hearing on the plea by six months. The court decided to admit the plea on the ground that their mercy pleas had been pending for eight years, resulting in serious mental agony.
The court expects another bench of the court to deliver its judgement on the petition of Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, 1993 Delhi blast convict, who also had sought clemency on identical grounds. The court judgment in the Bhullar case has been reserved since March last year.