The Supreme Court deferred by a day its hearing of a petition by 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon seeking a stay on his execution set for July 30, amidst a growing debate on whether he should be hanged. The top court will continue hearing it on Tuesday.
The last few days has seen legal experts and commentators arguing that Yakub's involvement in planning the blasts was much smaller than that of his brother Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim. Some also said Yakub helped Indian investigating agencies following the case and was most instrumental in providing crucial information to them.
Here is a low down on where people stand on the case:
Yakub has basically challenged the validity of the death warrant issued against him by a TADA court in Mumbai, saying "death warrant proceedings were carried out in Mumbai" while he was in jail in Nagpur and not represented by his lawyer. The second ground is that a death warrant needs to be issued 14 days before the date of execution and the date should not be fixed prior to the rejection of the curative petition.
Media reports say the petition also argues that Yakub suffers from schizophrenia and hopes that his death sentence can be commuted just like that of 1993 Delhi bomb blast convict Devinder Singh Bhullar, who was granted mercy on grounds of insanity.
1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon entering the Tada court. (Kunal Patil/HT File Photo)
National Law University (NLU), Delhi
Supreme Court bench will also hear a plea by National Law University (NLU), Delhi, which has supported Yakub’s contentions against his death warrant. Senior counsel TR Andhyarujina is representing the university’s Death Penalty Litigation Clinic, which has been filing petitions in the apex court against the execution of death penalty in different cases.
According to media reports, the Clinic has supported Yakub’s claims that he was not given proper notice about the death warrant and hence try for legal assistance.
B Raman’s article
Perhaps the most compelling argument made against Yakub’s death sentence was by former RAW official B Raman in an article written in 2007.
In his piece originally written for online news portal Rediff, Raman, who headed the Pakistan desk in the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), had argued that Yakub didn’t deserve a death penalty. The piece, which was published recently, said Yakub deserved leniency because he had assisted investigating agencies and brought his family back from Pakistan.
Following that, former Supreme Court judge HS Bedi wrote in The Indian Express that the piece should be considered suo motu by the apex court and reconsider the decision on Yakub’s execution.
Actor Salman Khan
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan on Sunday mounted a spirited defence of Yakub saying his brother Tiger Memon should be hanged instead.
Salman lashed out at Tiger Memon in about a dozen tweets posted early on Sunday, and asked Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to confirm whether the mob boss is in his country. “Get tiger hang him. Parade him not his brother,” Salman tweeted. He described Tiger Memon as a ‘lomdi’ or wolf and criticised him for remaining silent at a time when his brother is set to be marched to the gallows.
Salman, however, retracted his tweet later in the day but said he stands by his statement that Tiger Memon should be hanged for his crimes.
Activists and politicians
Hundreds of politicians, jurists and activists have appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee to spare the Yakub’s life.
“Blood-letting and human sacrifice will not make this country a safer place; it will, however, degrade us all,” said the signatories, including BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, Congress’ Mani Shankar Aiyar, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, Supreme Court lawyer Ram Jethmalani as well as film personalities Naseeruddin Shah and Mahesh Bhatt.
“Grant of mercy in this case will send out a message that while this country will not tolerate acts of terrorism, as a nation we are committed to equal application of the power of mercy and values of forgiveness, and justice.”
Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju called Memon’s death sentence a “gross travesty of justice” as the evidence based on which he had been found guilty was “very weak”.
“This evidence is retracted confession of the co-accused and alleged recoveries,” he said and added that “Everyone knows how confessions are obtained by the police in our country by torture.”
Yakub’s wife, Rahin, also pleaded for her husband’s death penalty to be reduced to life imprisonment, saying she believed he was innocent and had willingly surrendered to authorities.
“I have full faith in the judiciary. I ask for pardon from the government of India for Yakub so his death sentence can be commuted,” she told a news channel.