All four death-row convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case were executed at 5.30 this morning. A few hours earlier, the Supreme Court had dismissed their final petition in a hearing past midnight, bringing the curtains down on a 7-year-old case that had left the nation in shock. In a bid to stave off the final fate, the convicts had petitioned the Delhi High Court, where their lawyer cited coronavirus, among other things, for lack of proper documents and hurriedly filed appeal.
In the past few months, the four convicts had filed multiple petitions, managing to stall their execution thrice at the eleventh hour. "Send them to the India-Pakistan border, send them to Doklam, but don't hang them," pleaded the lawyer of one of the convicts.
A trial court had already declared that they had run out of all legal options of stopping their execution.
Being hanged at Tihar Jail in Delhi on Friday morning, the four convicts — Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Singh — spent a few hours in separate cells in isolation. This was the first time in the history of India that four convicts were hanged simultaneously.
Ahead of the execution, Asha Devi, Nirbhaya's mother, who had been fighting tooth and nail for justice, said: "We all have waited so long for this day. Today's dawn will be a new dawn as my daughter will get justice. It will also be a new dawn for daughters of India." Referring to her daughter, who had come to be known as "Nirbhaya" or fearless, Devi said: "My daughter's soul will be at peace."
Here's a chronology of events in the Nirbhaya case — the gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old girl on December 16, 2012, that shook the entire nation.
Dec 16, 2012: A 23-year-old physiotherapy student is raped by six people, including a juvenile, inside a moving bus.
Dec 17-21, 2012: All the six accused are arrested by the police.
Dec 23, 2012: The Delhi High Court sets up a fast-track court to hold the trial in the case.
Dec 24, 2012: The government announces setting up of a committee to suggest amendments in law for speedy trials and enhanced punishment for criminals in rape cases.
Dec 29, 2012: Nirabhaya succumbs to her injuries at a hospital in Singapore.
February 5, 2013: Trial begins in the case on charges of murder, gangrape and other offences. Statements of the accused are recorded.
March 11, 2013: Accused Ram Singh found hanging in his Tihar jail cell.
March 19 and 21, 2013: The Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance, 2013, passed by Lok Sabha March 19 and Rajya Sabha March 21, in light of the brutal rape of the 23-year-old girl.
Aug 31, 2013: Juvenile Justice Board sentences minor accused to a three-year stay in a special correction home.
Sep 13, 2013: A Delhi fast-track court sentences the four accused to death. The Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna refers the case to the high court for confirmation of the sentence.
Sep 25, 2013: Delhi High Court begins daily hearing in the case.
March 2014: HC upholds the death penalty.
April 4, 2016: Supreme Court begins the final hearing of the convicts' appeal almost two years after staying their execution.
May 5, 2017: Apex court upholds the death sentence of the four convicts.
Nov 13, 2017: Supreme Court begins hearing on the review petition filed by the convicts.
Dec 12, 2017: SC reserves verdict on Delhi gangrape convict's review petitions against the death sentence.
July 9, 2018: SC dismisses review pleas of Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh.
December 10, 2018: Akshay Singh moves plea in SC seeking review of his death penalty.
December 18, 2018: SC dismisses Akshay's review plea. Delhi court directs Tihar authorities to issue notice to convicts to avail their remaining legal remedies.
October 29, 2019: Tihar Jail authorities give the convicts seven days to file mercy petition or they would go to court and seek a black warrant.
November 8, 2019: Vinay Sharma files mercy petition with the Delhi government which is rejected by the Home Department. The file is forwarded to the Chief Secretary on November 29.
November 30, 2019: Chief Secretary rejects it and sends the file to Delhi Home Minister Satyendra Jain. The minister rejects it and forwards the file to LG's office.
December 2, 2019: LG rejects mercy plea of Sharma, approves Delhi government decisions.
December 6, 2019: Delhi government's recommendation rejecting Sharma's mercy plea is sent to President by Home Ministry.
December 10, 2019: Thakur files a review petition in Supreme Court.
January 7, 2020: Delhi court orders 4 convicts to be hanged on January 22 at 7 am in Tihar jail.
January 7, 2020: A Delhi court issues death warrant against all four convicts.
January 14, 2020: SC rejects curative petition of two of the four death row convicts Vinay Sharma and Mukesh Kumar.
January 15, 2020: The Delhi government tells the high court that execution of the death row convicts in the Nirbhaya gangrape and murder case will not take place on January 22 as a mercy plea has been filed by one of them.
January 17, 2020: President Ram Nath Kovind rejects the mercy plea of Mukesh Singh. A Delhi court issues fresh death warrants for February ruary 1, 6 am against the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case.
January 20, 2020: The Supreme Court Monday rejects the plea of Pawan Kumar Gupta, a death row convict in the Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case challenging the Delhi High Court order, which had dismissed his claim of being a juvenile at the time of the offence.
January 25, 2020: A Delhi court says no further directions were required on a plea by the lawyer of the death row convicts alleging the prison authorities were not handing over certain documents required to file mercy and curative petitions, and disposed of the petition.
January 25, 2020: Convict Mukesh moves SC seeking judicial review of the rejection of mercy petition by the President.
January 27, 2020: A dummy execution of the four death row convicts performed at Tihar Jail
Jan 29: Akshay approaches SC with curative petition.
SC rejects plea of Mukesh challenging rejection of his mercy plea.
Jan 30: SC dismisses curative plea of Akshay.
Jan 31: SC dismisses Pawan's plea seeking review of its order rejecting his juvenility claim.
Delhi court again postpones execution of the black warrants till further order.
February 5: HC dismisses the Centre's plea against trial court order, says all 4 convicts have to be hanged together. It directs convicts to pursue all legal remedies within a week, failing which the authorities are ordered to take action in accordance with law.
The Centre and the Delhi government move SC challenging the HC verdict on hanging of convicts.
February 6: Tihar authorities move court for fresh death warrants, trial court seeks convicts' response.
February 7: Delhi court dismisses Tihar's plea seeking fresh date for execution of convicts.
February 11: Vinay moves SC challenging rejection of mercy plea.
The victim's parents move a Delhi court seeking fresh death warrant for convicts.
February 13: Pawan refuses lawyer from DLSA as legal aid, jail authorities inform trial court.
SC appoints senior advocate Anjana Prakash as amicus to represent Pawan.
Vinay claims mental illness in SC, Centre says he has sound mind.
February 14: SC dismisses Vinay's plea challenging rejection of mercy petition.
February 17: Mukesh refuses to be represented by advocate Vrinda Grover.
Delhi court issues fresh death warrants for March 3.
February 28: Pawan files curative plea in SC
March 2: SC dismisses curative petition of Pawan. He files another mercy plea.
Delhi court defers hanging of 4 death row convicts till further order.
March 4: Delhi govt moves court seeking fresh date for execution of cnvicts.
March 5: Delhi court fixes March 20 as date of execution of convicts.
March 6: Mukesh moves SC seeking restoration of his legal remedies.
March 11: Pawan moves court for FIR against cops for alleged prison assault. March 12: Pawan's father moves HC against rejection of complaint for FIR against sole witness.
March 13: Vinay moves HC claiming procedural lapse in mercy plea rejection.
March 16: SC rejects Mukesh's plea seeking restoration of legal remedies.
3 death row convicts move ICJ seeking stay on execution.
March 17: Mukesh moves court seeking quashing of death penalty on claim of not being in Delhi at the time of crime, plea dismissed.
Pawan moves SC with fresh curative petition and Akshay files second mercy petition.
March 18: Mukesh moves HC against trial court's March 17 order, plea dismissed. Pawan, Vinay and Akshay seek stay on death penalty, Delhi court issues notice to Tihar, Police.
March 19: SC rejects curative petition of Pawan.
Mukesh moves SC claiming he was not in Delhi on Dec 16, 2012, plea dismissed.
Delhi court dismisses plea of Pawan, Vinay and Akshay seeking stay of execution.
SC dismisses Akshay's plea challenging rejection of second mercy petition.
March 20: Delhi HC dismisses plea of three convicts seeking stay on execution, convicts move SC.
In a pre-dwan hearing, SC brings the curtains down on the case by rejecting the plea of Pawan Gupta against rejection of his second mercy plea.
All four convicts hanged in Tihar jail at 5.30 am.