Yakub Memon, the lone death-row convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, is set to be hanged on July 30, with the Supreme Court Tuesday refusing to entertain his plea against the death penalty.
A bench led by Chief Justice H L Dattu dismissed Memon’s curative petition, which had urged the court to reconsider his capital punishment on various grounds.
A curative petition is the last legal remedy available to a convict and is meant to ensure that there is no miscarriage of justice. After a review petition against the judgment of conviction is dismissed, a curative petition is filed. It is decided by judges in chamber unless a specific plea for an open-court hearing is allowed.
Nixing Memon’s curative petition, the bench, also comprising Justices T S Thakur and Anil R Dave, noted that there was no tenable ground raised in his plea, hence it deserved to be dismissed summarily.
The July 30 execution date was fixed by a special TADA judge in Mumbai on April 29 after the Supreme Court had dismissed his review petition. Earlier in April, a bench presided over by Justice Dave dismissed Memon’s review petition, stating all his contentions had been duly dealt with by the top court when it upheld his death sentence.
His counsel Jaspal Singh claimed Memon may be held guilty of a conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, but he was not actually involved in executing the blasts that led to the death of people. Therefore, Memon said, the punishment prescribed under TADA did not entail a death sentence.
But the order on his review plea stated: “We find that all the arguments advanced by the review petitioner have been considered in detail in the judgment which is sought to be reviewed. Hence, we do not find any error apparent on the face of record or any other ground so as to warrant interference in exercise of our review jurisdiction.”
The apex court had, in March 2013, confirmed the death sentence awarded to Memon by a TADA court in 2006. The Supreme Court said he was the “driving spirit” behind the blasts that killed 257 people and that Memon’s “commanding position and the crime of utmost gravity” warranted capital punishment. It had, however, commuted the death sentence of 10 others into life imprisonment, making Memon the lone death-row convict.
President Pranab Mukherjee had, in April 2014, rejected Memon’s mercy petition and the decision was then left to the Maharashtra government for fixing the execution date. After the news came out that July 30 has been fixed for the hanging, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government will decide on the time, date and venue of the execution following the apex court’s order on Memon’s curative plea. Memon is lodged in a solitary cell in the high-security Nagpur central jail.