The Supreme Court on Wednesday was hearing the plea of Yakub Memon, the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case convict, seeking the stay of his execution scheduled for July 30 even as he filed a fresh mercy petition with the President.
The Chief Justice formed a three-judge bench on Tuesday after a two-member bench delivered a split verdict on Memon's petition for staying his hanging.
Details about Memon’s fresh petition filed with the President could not immediately be ascertained.
Following a disagreement between justices A R Dave and Kurian Joseph on the issue on Tuesday, the matter was referred to Chief Justice HL Dattu, who constituted a larger bench of justices Dipak Misra, Prafulla C Pant and Amitava Roy to decide the destiny of Memon, the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.
Memon, a chartered accountant who will turn 54 on Thursday, and 11 others were sentenced to death by a special TADA court in July 2007 for the dozen explosions that ripped through India's financial hub, killing 257 people at various landmarks and leaving more than 1,000 injured.
The only well-educated member of the Memon family was found guilty of criminal conspiracy, arranging money for buying vehicles used by the bombers and organising air tickets to Dubai for some of them.
The new bench formed by the Chief Justice will go into the merits of Memon's petition, which said the death warrant was issued before he had exhausted all legal remedies available to him.
Justice Dave dismissed his petition but justice Joseph disagreed, saying Memon’s curative petition needs to be heard afresh as it was dismissed without following correct procedure and rules laid down by the top court.
“A defect in deciding curative petition needs to be cured, otherwise there will be clear violation of right to life of the convict under Article 21 of the Constitution,” Joseph said.
On Tuesday, Memon filed a fresh petition challenging the validity of the Supreme Court’s July 21 order rejecting his curative petition.
Memon can be hanged only after the Supreme Court rejects his petition, which is unlikely to happen by July 30, when he is scheduled to be executed at Nagpur Central Jail. If the apex court upholds his petition for quashing the death warrant, his hanging will be stayed.
But he can be executed later but this too is likely to be delayed as an apex court verdict mandates a 14-day gap between the dismissal of a death row convict’s mercy plea and his execution.
On July 21, the apex court rejected Memon’s curative petition, saying it was void of merit. On the same day, he filed a mercy petition with the Maharashtra governor, seeking commutation of his death sentence to life imprisonment.
The apex court, through its March 21, 2013 verdict, upheld his death sentence while commuting the death sentence of 10 others to life imprisonment. The court on April 9 again dismissed Memon’s plea for the review of his death sentence, as it had earlier dismissed a similar plea seeking a recall of its March verdict.
(With inputs from PTI)