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New Delhi: Fresh death warrants have been issued for the four Nirbhaya case convicts, who will now be executed at 6 am on February 1. The new warrant was issued hours after President Ram Nath Kovind rejected a mercy petition filed by Mukesh Singh, one of the convicts, and is dated to exactly 14 days from today, in accordance with a law that states convicts to be executed must have a two-week reprieve from the time their mercy plea is turned down.

Vinay Sharma, Mukesh Singh, Akshay Kumar Singh and Pawan Gupta were to be hanged at Delhi's Tihar Jail on January 22, the trial court judge had declared last week, signing a death warrant seven years after a young medical student was gang-raped on a moving bus, tortured and killed.

However, on Thursday, five days before the scheduled execution, Tihar officials asked for a new date, saying the executions could not take place till after all mercy pleas were settled.

The three other convicts have yet to file their respective petitions, which they may do at any time prior to their execution. However, each time a petition is filed and rejected, that 14-day period must be observed, thereby prolonging the execution.

On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old medical student was gang-raped and tortured on a moving bus before being dumped on a road in south Delhi. The woman, who came to be known as "Nirbhaya", died on December 29 in a Singapore hospital.

Six men were arrested for the horrifying assault. A fifth accused -- Ram Singh -- allegedly committed suicide in Tihar Jail during the trial and the sixth man, a few months short of 18 at the time of the incident, was released after three years in a reform facility.

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