The Bombay High Court recently refused to grant furlough to Rubina Suleman Memon, sister-in-law of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon who was hanged for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blast case. The High Court held that since Rubina had been convicted under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA), she could not be released on furlough under the Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, 1959.
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Rubina had filed a plea in the High Court after her application for furlough and, thereafter, an appeal was rejected. The application for furlough was rejected under the Prisons (Bombay Furlough and Parole) Rules, according to which prisoners whose release is not recommended by the commissioner of police and district magistrate on the grounds of public peace and tranquility shall not get furlough.
In its order, the High Court stated that since Rubina was the sister-in-law of Yakub Memon, she would spend her period of furlough in Mahim area, “where people of all communities reside”. Moreover, people would turn up to meet her in large numbers and there would be a law and order problem. This was stated in view of the fact that thousands turned up for the funeral of Yakub Memon.
A Maruti van found abandoned at Worli with AK-56 rifles and hand grenades during the ‘93 blasts had been found registered under Rubina’s name. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, and is lodged in Pune jail.
The additional public prosecutor, arguing against her furlough, said under prevailing rules, prisoners convicted for terror crimes should not be released on furlough. Meanwhile, appearing for Rubina, Farhana Shah submitted that three co-accused also convicted under TADA had been released on bail. They are Sardar Shahwali Khan, Nasir Abdul Kadar, Isa Abdul Razak Memon.
Citing a decision in a case of one Balu Ubale by the Aurangabad Bench of the High Court which held that furlough rules would apply prospectively and not retrospectively, Shah said since Rubina was convicted by an order dated September 2006, the notification of February 23, 2012, by which those convicted for terror crimes don’t get furlough, would not apply to her.
Rejecting this claim, the additional public prosecutor argued that the Balu Ubale case would not be good law in view of the decisions of the HC in two other cases in 2016. “The relevant date to be considered is relation to the notification issued on February 23, 2012, is the date of application,” said Justice V K Tahilramani.
While taking into account other court decisions in this matter, the High Court further held that the competent authority’s grant of furlough to Sardar, Nasir and Isa based on the Balu Ubale order cannot be relied upon.