Yakub Memon, who is to be hanged on July 30 for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, on Thursday moved the Supreme Court and asked it to stop his execution on the ground that the death warrant issued by the lower court is illegal.
The warrant issued by a trial court did not follow proper procedure and guidelines, Yakub's lawyer told Supreme Court, citing a case in May when the death warrants of an Uttar Pradesh couple were cancelled. The apex court had then said that such warrants cannot be issued unless the convict has exhausted all legal options.
Yakub's petition says a death warrant was issued against him even before he could exhaust his last legal remedy - a curative petition.
On Tuesday, a three-judge Supreme Court bench had rejected Memon's curative petition, saying the grounds raised by him do not fall within the principles laid down by the apex court in 2002.
Yakub also filed a mercy petition by writing to Maharashtra governor Vidyasagar Rao on Wednesday.
After receiving a second mercy petition — 2,581 pages long — filed by Yakub, state government officials began hectic deliberations on whether it would be possible to stick to the date fixed for his execution on his 53rd birthday. But now there are doubts as to whether the execution can be carried out as scheduled, considering the time it will take to process Memon's mercy petition.
Sources said the home department will send the petition to the governor with its advice on Thursday, and to the central government a day or two later. Though the governor is not expected to take much time for a decision (as it will most likely be based on the government's advice), it is primarily the state's and central government's responsibility to check the petition's tenability.
According to home department officials, if the reasons given in the new petition do not differ from those in the first petition, it will not be admitted by the competent authorities – the governor of Maharashtra and the President of India. If the government finds the petition to be untenable, it can be rejected by the governor straight away, based on the 'advice' of the state, the official said.
In case it is found to be tenable, the governor may take more time arrive at a decision and may direct the state government to stay Memon's execution with the permission of the TADA court. The stay can be initiated in consultation with the central government and by taking the petition to the President.
Also, if the petition is deemed tenable, the Supreme Court's guidelines, which specify a 14-day gap between deciding on a mercy petition and executing a convict, will kick in, putting the July 30 execution date in further doubt.
Yakub was found guilty of planning and financing what was India's worst terror attack. Nearly 260 people were killed and 700 injured when bombs exploded in 12 different parts of the city. Before the 1993 blasts, he owned an export firm that was allegedly managed by his gangster brother Tiger Memon.
Yakub, a trained chartered accountant, returned to India in 1994, and claimed his innocence saying he had surrendered to cooperate with the investigation. Authorities, however, say he was arrested.
He was then convicted in 2007 by a Mumbai court for financing the terror attack and arranging for the training of terrorists in Pakistan. The death sentence handed to him by the TADA court was upheld by higher courts in subsequent years.