The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the petition of Yakub Memon, the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts convict, rejecting his argument that correct procedure was not followed in his case.
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 Yakub's execution for Thursday, the day he turns 53, 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."
Later in the evening, President Pranab Mukherjee rejected Memon's second mercy plea, clearing the decks for his hanging.
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 Misra, justice Prafulla C Pant and justice Amitava Roy to decide the destiny of Memon.
The bench also 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 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.
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 and 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.
(With agency inputs)