New Delhi: The four convicts on death row in the 2012 Delhi gang-rape and murder case are inching closer to their execution and their death sentence could be carried out within a month, several reports have claimed. However, even as their potential execution nears, the Tihar Jail, where the four are lodged, is currently without a hangman.

The development comes even as the Delhi government has recommended the Centre to reject the mercy petition filed by Vinay Sharma, one of the four convicts. He submitted his mercy petition to the President earlier this month after they were informed by the Tihar administration that they had exercised all their legal options and the mercy petition was their last possible resort.

According to reports, the execution will be carried out any day after a ‘Black Warrant’ sanctioning their execution is issued. The warrant will be issued after the mercy petition is rejected by President Ram Nath Kovind.

The last execution to be carried out at Tihar was that of Parliament Attack convict Afzal Guru on February 9, 2013. However, at that time also, the lever was pulled by a jail official. The jail administration, reportedly, is in contact with other jails to inquire if they have a hangman. Jails in Uttar Pradesh are also being contacted as the last Tihar hangman was from the state.

In all probability, the administration, according to reports, will not appoint a hangman as the death penalty is carried out only in ‘rarest of rare’ cases. It is more likely to employ someone on a one-time contract to carry out the sentence.

The other three convicts on death row in this case are Mukesh Singh, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Thakur. Prime accused Ram Singh committed suicide in his cell in Tihar in March 2013. A juvenile convict, meanwhile, is now free after completing his sentence under the erstwhile juvenile justice laws.

The fast-paced developments in the case come amid, and possibly even due to, the recent, gruesome Hyderabad gang-rape and murder case.