A day after he said the apex court’s decision in the Yakub Memon case amounted to “judicial abdication”, Supreme Court Deputy Registrar (Research) Dr Anup Surendranath resigned on Friday.
Confirming his resignation, Supreme Court Public Relations Officer Rakesh Sharma said: “The authorities have accepted his resignation, which mentioned he wanted to be relieved for research work. He has been accordingly relieved after tenure of more than a year.”
— Utkarsh Anand (@utkarsh_aanand) August 2, 2015
Surendranath is a faculty member of Delhi’s National Law University and director of the Death Penalty Research Project. He had involved the Death Penalty Research Project as a co-petitioner to support Yakub’s case, and engaged senior advocate T R Andhyarujina to argue against the validity of the death warrant. He attended all the court hearings, including the pre-dawn hearing on Thursday that sealed Yakub’s fate less than two hours before he was to be hanged.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Surendranath said he wanted to focus on his work on death penalty in India and highlight inconsistencies in the judicial administration of death penalty and its constitutional unviability. “I will not want to comment on the reasons why I resigned,” he said.
But in his Facebook post on Friday night, Surendranath said: “I have been contemplating this for a while now for a variety of reasons, but what was played out this week at the Supreme Court was the proverbial final nail — I have resigned from my post at the Supreme Court to focus on death penalty work at the university.”
He added: “It is in many ways liberating to regain the freedom to write whatever I want and I hope to make full use of that in the next few days to discuss the events that transpired at the Supreme Court this week.”
Hours after Yakub’s execution on Thursday morning, Surendranath had posted: “It would be silly and naive to see the events of the last 24 hours at the Supreme Court as some triumph of the rule of law — the two orders at 4 pm on 29th July and 5 am on 30th July (and the reasoning adopted therein) are instances of judicial abdication that must count amongst the darkest hours for the Supreme Court of India.”
An attempt by Yakub and the Death Penalty Research Project to have the execution stayed over legality of the death warrant first failed on July 29. After this petition was dismissed, Yakub’s lawyers and Surendranath’s team camped outside the Chief Justice of India’s office to secure a pre-dawn hearing on Thursday. The second attempt also failed, and Yakub was executed at 7 am on Thursday.