A three-judge bench of the Supreme court was hearing at 3.20 am on Thursday a last-minute plea by lawyers and activists for staying the execution of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts accused Yakub Memon.
The hearing being held at the Supreme Court building at such a late hour is an unprecedent development.
Memon's lawyer Anand Grover said Memon must be given 14 days as mandated by SC to meet family members and settle his will .
The 14-day period is given to the convict to challenge the rejection of mercy plea, he argued.
"We are not on merits. It's over now. I am only seeking 14 days," Grover told the bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra.
When Misra asked whether he was challenging the rejection of mercy plea, Grover said he was yet to get a copy of the rejection order.
The dramatic last-ditch effort started after President Pranab Mukherjee dismissed Yakub Memon’s mercy petition and the Supreme Court upheld his death warrant on Wednesday.
Minutes after his mercy plea was rejected, a group of senior lawyers and activists approached Chief Justice of India HL Dattu, seeking a stay on Yakub’s execution, attempting to stave off the hanging scheduled for 7am on Thursday.
The fresh plea said an order should be passed asking the authorities to give Yakub at least 14 days time before execution after the rejection of his mercy petition, as per the apex court's guidelines.
NDTV reported that the lawyers also cited the Maharashtra jail manual which specifies there should be a seven-day gap between the rejection of bail plea and the execution
A posse of journalists accompanied the advocates – which included Indira Jaising and Prashant Bhushan – as they waited outside the CJI’s residence under the glare of flashbulbs and cameras.
Dattu went through the petition and referred the matter to Justice Dipak Misra, who headed a three-judge bench which held, earlier in the day, that all rules were duly complied with and Yakub had exhausted all legal options.
The three-judge bench -- comprising Misra, Prafulla C Pant and Amitava Roy -- were first set to meet at Misra's residence, but then decided to hear the plea at the Supreme Court.
With Mukherjee and home minister Rajnath Singh locked in a marathon meeting over the mercy plea, hundreds of students and activists gathered in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to protest against the death penalty.
The late-night move came after a day of drama, where the top court held that the lone death row convict in the case was given adequate notice to enable him to avail all possible legal remedies.