A Delhi court on Friday stayed the execution of four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case until further orders.
The execution has now been postponed without a new date being fixed.
The court was hearing a petition from the death row convicts seeking a stay on their execution.
The four convicts were earlier scheduled to be hanged on February 1.
Convicts' execution postponed due to pending mercy plea
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana delivered the verdict at Delhi's Patiala court.
Reportedly, advocate AP Singh—appearing for the convicts Pawan Gupta, Vinay Kumar Sharma, Akshay Kumar—asked the court to adjourn the execution "sine die" (with no appointed date for resumption).
The plea was filed in light of convict Vinay's pending mercy plea, filed before President Ram Nath Kovind.
Prosecutor argued execution order enforceable on Mukesh, Akshay, Pawan
Appearing for the fourth convict, Mukesh Kumar, lawyer Vrinda Grover had also argued that due to Vinay's pending mercy plea, the execution could not be carried out for the other convicts either.
However, Prosecutor Irfan Ahmed had opposed the stay on execution, arguing that while the execution order may not be enforceable on Vinay, it could be enforced on the other three convicts.
Lawyers of Nirbhaya's parents opposed manipulation of law by convicts
The prosecutor had also argued that the court had no jurisdiction to stay the execution as it rested with the Delhi government since the plea was filed beyond the statutorily provided period of seven days, Bar and Bench reported.
Meanwhile, appearing for Nirbhaya's parents, lawyers Jitendra Jha and Seema Kushwaha urged the court to not allow the convicts to manipulate the law.
Meanwhile, Nirbhaya's mother says she will continue the fight
Asha Devi, mother of the 2012 Delhi gang-rape victim: The lawyer of the convicts, AP Singh has challenged me saying that the convicts will never be executed. I will continue my fight. The government will have to execute the convicts. pic.twitter.com/NqihzqisQo
Recently, convicts have deployed various tricks to delay execution
This month, Patiala House Court issued death warrants, fixing January 22 as the date of execution. It was delayed to Saturday (February 1), after Mukesh filed a mercy plea before President Ram Nath Kovind, which was eventually rejected.
Deploying delaying tactics to escape the noose, Vinay also approached the President, and Akshay went to SC.
Separately, Pawan contested he was a minor in 2012.
Taking recent incidents into account, Centre approached SC
The repeated pleas filed in different courts by the convicts led to the Centre asking SC to change the rules.
In a plea, the government, led by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said necessary changes should be brought in so that death row convicts don't exploit legal options.
Convicts "play with the law and delay execution", the Centre wrote in its plea.
What is the Nirbhaya rape case?
The four convicts, and two others, raped a 23-year-old student (dubbed "Nirbhaya") on a moving bus on December 16, 2012.
The convicts penetrated her with iron rods, inflicting grave injuries, and the victim died two weeks later during treatment.
The fifth accused, Ram Singh, allegedly committed suicide in prison in 2013. The sixth accused—a juvenile—was sent to a reformation home and was later released.