While sentences gangster Abu Salem to life, the special court has observed that the verdict was within the provisions of the Indian laws and the extradition deal with Portugal. Salem, extradited in 2005, had submitted that he was “unfairly treated” despite assurance by the then Deputy PM LK Advani to Portugal.
Salem had submitted that as per the Solemn Sovereign Assurance given by Advani in 2002, awarding life imprisonment “is out of question” and he cannot be sent to jail for more than 25 years. But Special Judge Govind A Sanap concluded that the powers of the court to award life imprisonment “have not been taken away”.
“It is seen on perusal of the Solemn Sovereign Assurance that the Government of India was alive to the situation that it would not be in a position to give Solemn Sovereign Assurance that no court in India shall award punishment of life imprisonment to the accused Abu Salem,” the court said.
It added that the Assurance has a specific reference to the provisions of Article 72 (1) of the Constitution of India emphasising that the President has the power to grant pardon, reprieve, respites or remission of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence. The court has observed that this power cannot be “questioned in any court of law” and is “beyond judicial review” and that the President is “vested with the powers to ensure full compliance” of the Assurance by Advani.
The court said the Supreme Court of Portugal considered the Assurance from the point of view of the exercise of powers by India and not in context of application of sentence by the Indian court, leaving it to the Centre to decide.
On reducing Salem’s punishment
Salem has been sentenced to life by the same court for the murder of city builder Pradeep Jain. Legal representatives of Salem said they will add the blasts order as part of their submission before the European authorities including the European Court of Human Rights claiming that it continues to violate the Assurance.
The court had also observed that it would be counting his detention from the time he was arrested in the Mumbai blasts case in 2005 and will not be considering his arrest from 2002 to 2005 in Lisbon as he was undergoing punishment handed out to him by a local court there.