Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Saturday stayed till April 10 the execution of Dharampal, a rape convict who later murdered the victim and four members of her family while out on parole in 1993.
Dharampal was set to be hanged on April 15 and had been brought from Rohtak jail where he was lodged to Ambala for the execution, Haryana DGP (Prisons) Sharad Kumar had said earlier today.
The Division bench of Justice A K Mittal and Justice G S Sandhawalia took up the petition for conversion of the death sentence into life imprisonment.
Among the grounds taken in the petition, filed before the High Court was that the Supreme Court was already "seized of the matter".
The court ordered stay on the hanging till April 10 while hearing a petition filed by NGO Lawyers for Human Rights International soon after its filing in view of the urgency involved in the matter.
The counsel Navkiran Singh told the Court that till the morning of April 5, the convict was lodged in Rohtak jail after which he has been shifted to Ambala Jail, "where preparations were being made for executing his death sentence..."
He drew parallel between Dharampal and Davinderpal Singh Bhullar`s case, contending that the Apex Court was "seized of the matter pertaining to all the death sentence convicts, whose mercy petitions were pending with the President for long".
Bhullar has been given the death sentence in connection with the explosions outside the Youth Congress office in Delhi in 1993.
The bench also issued notice to Haryana government and asked it reply to the notice by April 10.
Later, DGP Kumar said that "as of now the hanging remains scheduled for April 15."
"Action in the matter would depend on the directions of the Court, but we are prepared for the hanging on April 15," he said in reply to a question on the petition having been filed in the High Court here today.
"We are yet to get the copy of the order," he added.
The President had recently rejected the convict`s mercy petition, which had been pending for 14 years.
The DGP said the hanging will be carried out in Ambala jail, where the last execution had taken place in 1989.
Asked if hangman was available, he said, "We have all arrangements in place".
The convict, who was earlier lodged in a jail in Rohtak, was shifted to Ambala prison yesterday.
While Haryana has 19 jails, only the ones in Ambala and Hisar have the requisite facilities for hanging.
In 1991, Dharampal was sentenced to 10-year imprisonment for raping a girl in Sonepat.
After his release on parole in 1993, Dharampal along with his brother Nirmal murdered the girl, her father Tale Ram, mother Krishna and brothers Teenu and Praveen when they were sleeping at their house.
Dharmapal and Nirmal were sentenced to death by a Sessions Court on May 5, 1997 and it was retained by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 29, 1998.
However, the Supreme Court converted Nirmal`s death penalty to life imprisonment but Dharampal`s death sentence was retained.
His mercy petition was rejected by the Union Home Minister in 2000. Later, Dharampal filed a mercy plea to the President in 2005 which was rejected after about eight years.