New Delhi: In a significant development, the four convicts in the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape and murder case moved a step closer to execution as they were issued a notice by the Tihar Jail Superintendent that they had exhausted all their legal options, except filing a mercy petition against their death sentence before the President of India.

The notice added that the convicts had a week’s time, from when they receive the notice, to file the mercy petition, failing which it would be assumed that they are not interested in filing the same and the jail administration would proceed with necessary legal proceedings as per the law.

The four convicts-Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur-were convicted and sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in May 2017; the review petition of three of the convicts, too, was rejected last July. Earlier, they were held guilty and sentenced to death by the Delhi High Court in September 2013.

The juvenile convict in the case was released in December 2015 from a correction home after completing his ‘sentence’ under the erstwhile Juvenile Justice Act (JJA), while Ram Singh, the prime accused and brother of Mukesh Singh, committed suicide in 2013 while in jail.

‘Nirbhaya’ was a medical intern who was gang-raped by the six and tortured on a bus which she had boarded with a male friend on the night of December 16, 2012, after having watched a movie. She died in a hospital in Singapore, where she was airlifted by the government, on December 29.

The incident had triggered widespread outrage across the country. Public protests took place in various cities, with the one in Delhi, on December 21 at Rajpath, taking a violent turn.