The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the execution of death row convict Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
Memon is the brother of Ibrahim Memon, better known as Tiger Memon, the alleged mastermind and the prime accused who is absconding.
A bench of Justices J S Khehar and C Nagppan issued notices to the Centre, Supreme Court Registry and others on Memon’s petition that, among various grounds, has also challenged the practice of deciding review petitions in chamber hearing. The bench ordered status quo on Memon’s petition and decided to hear it with a similar petition filed by a death row convict in the Red Fort attack case.
The court had in April admitted for hearing 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, were killed.
Ashfaq’s petition was referred to a Constitution bench to decide if the review of death penalty cases warranted open court hearings. The Constitution bench also needs to decide whether a person can suffer two alternate sentences consecutively and if it’s justified to award a higher punishment after suffering a protracted jail term during the trial and appeals.
President Pranab Mukherjee has recently 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.