Mumbai: A pair of step-sisters in Maharashtra who are on death row for murdering five children have lodged a last-ditch appeal after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected their mercy plea last month, clearing the way for them to become the first women to be executed in the country.
Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit were convicted by the Supreme Court in 2006 of kidnapping 13 children, forcing them to join a gang of thieves and murdering at least five of them.
Ms Shinde, 45, and Ms Gavit, 39, were initially accused of murdering nine of their victims, but prosecutors were able to prove that they killed five.
Their lawyer has filed a petition with the Bombay High Court against their execution on the grounds that the 13-year delay in carrying out the sentence is excessive.
“There has been an inordinate delay in carrying out the death sentence. So I will pray to the courts to commute the same into life behind bars,” said Sudeep Jaiswal, who has represented the two sisters since 2010.
In a landmark ruling this year, the Supreme Court said “inordinate and inexplicable” delays in carrying out executions are grounds for commuting death sentences.
The last person to be executed in India was Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri who was hanged in 2013 for his role in the attack on Parliament in 2001 in which 14 people were killed.