Govt advises President to reject Yakub Memon’s mercy plea

Mumbai blast convict Yakub Memon is likely to be hanged on Thursday as the Supreme Court today rejected his plea against the death warrant.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: July 29, 2015 9:45 pm
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Home Minister Rajnath Singh tonight called on President Pranab Mukherjee and believed to have conveyed government’s view that mercy the petition of Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon be rejected.

Singh’s meeting came after government at the top level considered the mercy petition referred to it by the President who acts on the aide and advice of the Council of Ministers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh and top officials, including Home Secretary L C Goyal at the Prime Minister’s residence and discussed the issue and felt that the President should be advised to reject the mercy petition filed today.

Hectic consultations were in the evening on the issue with Law Secretary P K Malhotra holding discussions with the Home Secretary apparently on the issue.

Rashtrapati Bhavan is expected to make public its decision, one way or the other, on the issue tonight as time is running out for Memon.

He is scheduled to be hanged tomorrow morning in the Nagpur jail after the Supreme Court dismissed his petition against the death warrant on the ground that it was issued before his curative plea was heard by the court.

President Pranab Mukherjee sent the fresh mercy petition of 1993 Mumbai-blast accused Yakub Memon–filed today as a last ditch attempt to escape the gallows–to the Home Ministry.

Memon, who is scheduled to be hanged to death in Nagpur Jail tomorrow at 7 AM, sent a fresh clemency plea to the President today.

Sources said the Ministry is likely to advise the President about the legal position as the Supreme Court today refused to stay the execution and Maharashtra Governor also rejected his mercy petition.

President had rejected Yakub’s mercy petition on April 11, 2014 which was communicated to him on May 26, 2014.

The apex court cleared the way for execution of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon as it dismissed his petition against the death warrant. A three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said there was no legal fallacy in issuance of the death warrant on April 30 or dismissal of his curative petition on July 21.

It said all rules were duly complied with in dealing with Yakub’s plea and he was also given adequate notice about impending execution so that he could avail possible legal remedies.

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The bench refused to entertain a plea by Yakub’s lawyers that a fresh mercy petition was still pending with the Maharashtra Governor and said that it was not an issue for the court to adjudge since a court has very limited jurisdiction on the subject.

The mercy plea with the president now remains the last hope for Memon and the Maharashtra Governor too has dismissed his mercy plea.

“The issuance of death warrant is in order and we do not find any kind of legal fallacy,” a bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, Prafulla C Pant and Amitava Roy said.

“Issuance of death warrant by the TADA court of April 30 cannot be faulted,” the bench said, adding “in the result, the writ petition (filed by Memon) sans merit and stands dismissed.”

The bench said the dismissal of curative petition by the senior most judges of the Supreme Court was correct.

“In view of that we conclude that the curative petition decided by the three senior most judges cannot be faulted,” the bench said, adding that it was not inclined to go into the issue of second mercy petition filed by Memon before the Maharashtra government after the dismissal of his curative petition on July 21.

The bench rejected the contention of Memon that all legal remedies were not exhausted including the issue of clemency, saying the President had rejected his mercy petition on April 11, 2014 which was communicated to him on May 26, 2014.

“After the first mercy petition was rejected he did not challenge it and on July 22, 2015, after rejection of his curative petition he filed the second mercy petition. However, how the second mercy petition is going to be dealt with, we are not inclined to go,” the bench said.

The bench also rejected Memon’s plea that death warrant was issued without hearing him and a mandatory 14 days time frame was not granted in informing him about the date of execution after the rejection of mercy petition.

The order was passed by a three-judge bench which was constituted to hear afresh Memon’s plea after two judges had yesterday given a split order.

A three-judge apex court bench headed by Chief Justice had on July 21 rejected Memon’s curative petition contending that the grounds raised by him for relief did not fall within principles laid down by the Supreme Court in 2002 in deciding curative pleas.

Memon had claimed he was suffering from schizophrenia since 1996 and has remained behind bars for nearly 20 years, much more than a person serving life term has to spend in jail.

He had earlier sought commutation of death penalty, contending that a convict cannot be awarded life term and the death sentence for the same offence.

The apex court had on June 2, 2014 stayed the execution of Memon and referred his plea to a Constitution Bench as to whether review petitions in death penalty cases be heard in an open court or in chambers.

The apex court had on April 9 this year dismissed Memon’s petition seeking review of his death sentence which was upheld on March 21, 2013.

Memon’s review petition was heard by a three-judge bench in an open court in pursuance of the Constitution Bench verdict that the practice of deciding review pleas in chambers be done away with, in cases where death penalty has been awarded.

12 coordinated blasts had rocked Bombay, as the city was then known, on March 12, 1993, leaving 257 dead and over 700 injured.

(With inputs from PTI)

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