Friday, Sep 19, 2014

New ray of hope for death row convicts, SC allows fresh plea for open court hearing

A plea against death sentence will now be heard by a three-judge bench in open court. A plea against death sentence will now be heard by a three-judge bench in open court.
Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Posted: September 2, 2014 11:26 am | Updated: September 2, 2014 11:46 am

Giving a fresh ray of hope for several death-row convicts, including 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case convict Yakub Abdul Razak Memon , the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that their review petitions against the verdict upholding the death sentence will now be heard by a three-judge bench in open court.

A Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha said that all the death row convicts, whose review petitions have already been rejected but their sentence has not been executed, may file fresh petitions for an open court hearing of their review pleas within a month and they will be heard for at least half-an-hour.

However, in the cases, where the curative petition has already been decided, the death row convict will not have this opportunity to avail the same.

The constitution bench verdict came on a batch of petitions seeking that their plea for the recall of verdict upholding their death sentence should be heard in the open court by a three judges bench.

As of now the review plea of death row convicts were being considered by the judges in their chambers through circulation.

By its order, the court decided a batch of petitions, filed by eight death-row convicts, including Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, and Red Fort Attack case convict Mohd Arif. While Arif’s curative petition has already been rejected, Memon has not exhausted this remedy.

The court had in June stayed the execution of Memon, who is the brother of Ibrahim Memon, better known as Tiger Memon, the alleged mastermind and the prime accused who is absconding in the blast case.

President Pranab Mukherjee had in April rejected the mercy petition of Memon and the decision was left to the Maharashtra government for fixing the execution date.

Memon is lodged in the high-security ward of Nagpur jail. In March last year, the SC had confirmed the death sentence awarded to Memon, holding him guilty of being the “driving spirit” behind the blasts that killed 257 people, while commuting the death sentence awarded to 10 others to life imprisonment till their death. The court had said that Memon’s “commanding position and the crime of utmost gravity” warranted capital punishment. Memon then moved a clemency petition before the President in October last year.

A chartered accountant by profession, Memon was arrested in 1994. Gangster Dawood Ibrahim is also an accused in the case. The government had recommended rejection of Memon’s mercy petition on the ground that it was an act of terrorism and did not qualify for pardon.

While staying his execution, the court had tagged his plea with a petition by Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Mohd Arif alias Ashfaq, who was convicted in the 2000 Red Fort attack case, in which three people, including two Army personnel, continued…

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