New Delhi: The execution of two death row convicts in a 13-year-old rape-cum-murder case, scheduled for Thursday, was on Wednesday stayed by the Supreme Court even as one of them tried to commit suicide in Hindalga jail in Belgaum in Karnataka.
Shivu Munishetti and Jadeswamy Rangashetti, whose mercy pleas had been rejected by the President early this month, had moved the apex court saying there was a delay of six years in deciding their clemency petitions.
The duo had been sentenced to death for brutally raping and murdering a teenage girl in 2001.
Appearing for the convicts, senior advocate KV Vishwanathan sought stay on the execution of their sentence citing delay by the government in deciding their mercy pleas.
A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Ranjan Gogoi issued notice to the Karnataka government seeking its response on their pleas.
"It is asserted that in both the matters the mercy petition filed by the petitioners remained pending for six years. Since the connected petitions are pending before this Court, we are inclined to issue notice," the bench said.
"Issue notice. In the meantime, there shall be an order of stay restraining the respondents from executing the sentence of death on the petitioners pursuant to the rejection of their mercy petitions by the President of India," it said and posted the matter for hearing after four weeks.
Earlier in the day, Shivu allegedly attempted suicide in the jail amid preparations by prison authorities to hang him along with the other convict.
Shivu slashed his private parts and a hand with a blade, prison officials said. He was being treated in the jail and might be shifted to a district hospital, they said.
Shivu and Jadeswamy were arrested by the Chamarajnagar police in connection with rape and murder of an 18-year-old girl on October 15, 2001.
The two were sentenced to death by a trial court in July 2005. The Karnataka High Court rejected their appeal and confirmed their death penalty in October 2005. The Supreme Court had upheld the High Court verdict in 2007.
President Pranab Mukherjee had rejected their mercy plea early this month. On August 08, the apex court had stayed the execution of Maganlal Barela, who was to be hanged the same morning for beheading his five daughters in Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh.
Barela was found guilty of beheading his daughters Leela (6), Savita (5), Arti (4), Phool Kanwar (2) and Jamuna (1), to death with an axe following a dispute over property with his two wives on June 11, 2010.
He was awarded capital punishment on February 3, 2011.
The President had rejected Barela`s plea for clemency on July 22, this year after dismissal of his petition for converting capital punishment into life imprisonment by Madhya Pradesh High Court (Jabalpur bench) on February 3, 2011 and the Supreme Court on January 9, 2012.