Maharashtra wants quick ruling on Yakub Memon mercy plea

  • Surendra P Gangan, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jul 24, 2015 23:10 IST
1993 blasts accused Yakub Memon is a CA by profession. When he goes to the gallows, he will be one of the few prisoners who will have completed two masters degrees from IGNOU. (HT file photo)

The Maharashtra government has sent Yakub Memon’s mercy petition to Governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao and expects him to make a decision before the Supreme Court hears the 1993 blasts convict's latest petition on Monday.

The government had several rounds of meetings with legal experts on Friday before finalising its advice to the governor, which was sent to him along with Memon’s mercy plea. Its advice note, signed by chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, said Memon’s petition was untenable. Fanavis said the government also mentioned in its note that there was nothing new in the petition. “We have submitted the petition to the governor,” he added.

Home department officials said they expected the governor to reject the plea as the reasons mentioned in it are similar to those in Memon’s first mercy petition, which was rejected last year. In his latest plea, Memon cited his deteriorating mental health, claiming he has been suffering from schizophrenia for many years. He also mentioned parity as grounds for mercy, saying that 11 other convicts had their death penalties commuted to life in jail while his alone was upheld. Memon’s petition also stated that as he has already served 21 years behind bars, he should be considered for a pardon.

Sources said the home department examined various legal provisions to find out if it is mandatory for the governor to send the petition to the President. It also sought clarification on whether Memon could use the 14-day gap between the rejection of a convict’s mercy plea and his execution, mandated by the Supreme Court, to delay his execution.

Officials in the home department claimed that since this was Memon’s second mercy plea, the 14-day provision did not apply, and therefore he could be handed on July 30. Legal experts with the government said that since the President had already rejected a previous mercy petition from Memon in 2014, it was not necessary send him the new one. “The petition has been addressed to the governor, who has the power to reject it under Article 161 of the Constitution,” said a state government official, who did not wish to be named.

But Fadnavis said the state government will send the petition to the union home ministry, which will forward it to the President. “Unless Supreme Court directs otherwise, there will be no change in the hanging date,” he added.

Additional chief secretary (home) KP Bakshi said that the governor’s decision on the petition was expected a few hours after he received it. According to the sources in Raj Bhavan, the governor has already sought legal opinion on the case from acting advocate general Anil Singh and that his decision is likely to be based on the government’s advice.

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