The central government on Monday strongly opposed 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts convict Yakub Memon’s plea challenging the death warrant issued against him and seeking stay of his execution — slated for July 30 — saying that he has exhausted all the legal and administrative remedies.
However, the apex court bench of Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Kurian Joseph adjourned the hearing as Justice Joseph raised doubts over the composition of the bench that had rejected Memon’s curative petition on July 21.
The Supreme Court was hearing a plea by Mumbai bomb blasts convict Yakub Memon, who has sought a stay on his execution set for July 30.
Eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani and leaders from four political parties were among around 200 people who on Sunday urged President Pranab Mukherjee to reconsider Memon’s mercy plea.
The signatories included BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha, Congress’s Mani Shankar Aiyer, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D. Raja, actor Naseeruddin Shah, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, activist Tushar Gandhi, lawyer Vrinda Grover and economist Jean Dreze.
Memon had moved the apex court contending that the death warrant for his execution was issued before he could have exhausted the legal remedies available to him and when his curative petition was pending consideration by the court.
The apex court on July 21 rejected Memon’s curative petition saying it was void of merit.
On the same day, Memon filed a mercy petition before the Maharashtra governor seeking commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment.
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan came out against the death penalty, saying Yakub Memon should not be punished for his brother Tiger’s crime.
“Hang Tiger. Brother is being hanged for Tiger. Aarrre (Where) is Tiger? Get Tiger. Get Tiger hang him. Parade him, not his brother,” Salman tweeted on Saturday night, referring to Ibrahim alias Tiger Memon.
However, on Sunday, he apologised for his tweet, but said he stood by what he had said earlier.
“What I said is that Yakub Memon should not hang for him (Tiger). I have not said or implied that Yakub Memon is innocent. I have complete faith in the judicial system of our country.”
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi also sparked a row by saying Memon was being hanged because he belonged to a particular religion while the death sentences of those convicted in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi were commuted to life imprisonment.
In response, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday said efforts were being made to give communal colour to the death penalty to Memon and asked people not to question the court verdict.
Interestingly, an article by former RAW officer B. Raman, which came to light recently, had him opposing the death sentence to Memon stating that he was arrested in Kathmandu on the condition that he would not be hanged.
In return, Memon would help the Indian agencies in exposing Pakistan’s role in the blasts.
Former apex court judge, Justice Harjit Singh Bedi said in a letter to The Indian Express that the apex court should take suo muto notice of this article and only after hearing both sides, remand the case to the trial court to take further evidence on the question of the sentence or, in the alternative, the evidence itself. He also mentioned that he was against imposition of death penalty.
Memon, in his petition before the apex court, relied on the court’s May 27 verdict where it quashed the death warrant issued for the execution of a woman named Shabnam and her paramour Salim, both convicted for multiple murders of members of the girl’s family, on the ground of it being illegal as due procedure was not followed.
Memon and 11 others were slapped with the death penalty by the special TADA court in July 2007 for the 1993 bomb blasts in which 257 people were killed and 712 were injured.
The apex court by its March 21, 2013 verdict upheld his death sentence while commuting the death sentence of 10 others (one having died subsequently) to life imprisonment.
The court on April 9 again dismissed Memon’s plea for the review of his death sentence, as it had earlier dismissed a similar plea seeking recall of the March 21, 2013 verdict.