President Pranab rejects mercy plea, Yakub exhausts all legal options

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 30, 2015 07:42 IST

Yakub Memon, the only person to be sentenced to death for the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts, will be hanged as scheduled on Thursday after he exhausted all his legal remedies and President Pranab Mukherjee too rejected his mercy plea on Wednesday.

The President made the final call after consulting home minister Rajnath Singh who said there was "no rethink" on the death sentence.

Singh's two- hour meeting came after government at the top level considered the mercy petition referred to it by the President who acts on the advice of the Council of Ministers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh and top officials, including home secretary LC Goyal at the Prime Minister's residence and discussed the issue and felt that the President should be advised to reject the mercy petition.

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After the President was examining the mercy plea, Memon's lawyers again approached the Supreme Court late on Wednesday night seeking a stay on his execution for 14 days

They said there should be a gap of 14 days between the rejection of mercy petition and execution of convict as per a 2014 SC order.

Memon had appealed to the President for mercy, for the second time, even as the Supreme Court was hearing the plea against his execution. It dismissed Memon's petition rejecting his argument that correct procedure was not followed in his case.

President Mukherjee had turned down Memon's mercy plea last year.

While rejecting his plea, the apex court said there was no "legal fallacy" in the issuance of death warrant by the TADA court in Mumbai on April 30 scheduling Memon's execution for Thursday, the day he turns 54, in Nagpur's Central jail.

"Issuance of death warrant cannot be faulted with," said the three-judge bench headed by justice Dipak Misra, adding "in the result, the writ petition (filed by Memon) sans merit and stands dismissed."

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 the 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 court order came after a day-long hearing on the petition by Memon and also a reference by two judge-bench on the appropriateness of another bench that had heard Memon's curative petition and rejected it on July 21. This reference was made following a split verdict between justice Anil R Dave and justice Kurien Joseph on Tuesday.

Dealing with the reference, the court said that the curative petition that "was decided by the three senior-most judges cannot be regarded as void or inappropriate" in context of the principle that was laid down by this court in an earlier judgement famously known as Hurra case.

"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.

"Thus, we disagree with the views expressed by justice Joseph at this juncture," the court said, holding that "dismissal of curative petition by the three senior-most judges has to be regarded to be correct and not vitiated by any procedural irregularity".

The apex court had set up the three-judge bench on Tuesday after a two-judge bench had delivered a split verdict on the petition of Memon, the lone death row convict in the blasts, who had sought a stay of his execution scheduled for July 30.

Following the disagreement between justice Dave and justice Joseph on the issue, the matter was referred to chief justice of India HL Dattu who constituted a larger bench of justice Dipak Misra, justice Prafulla C Pant and justice Amitava Roy to decide the destiny of Memon.

Without saying anything on the second mercy petition moved by Memon before the Maharashtra governor CV Rao after the rejection of his curative petition by the apex court on July 21, the court brought an end to the legal battle being waged by Memon challenging his death sentence.

Rao rejected Memon's plea for clemency around the time the apex court was hearing his petition.

Memon and 11 others were slapped with the death penalty by a special TADA court in July 2007 for the dozen explosions that ripped through India's financial capital, killing nearly 260 people at various landmarks and leaving more than 700 injured.

Memon, a chartered accountant , 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.

India is one of a handful of countries worldwide to still have the death penalty but the rate of executions has slowed down to a trickle in the last two decades. Though hundreds of people are on death row, only three people have been executions have gone ahead in the last 18 years – rapist Dhananjoy Chatterjee in 2004, Mumbai attacks convict Ajmal Kasab in 2012 and Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in 2013.


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(With agency inputs)

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