The question on the execution of Yakub Memon, lone convict in 1993 Mumbai serial blast case to be awarded a death sentence, has split the Supreme Court bench. The two-judge bench of Justice Kurain Joseph and Justice Anil Dave delivered a split verdict setting the stage for Chief Justice HL Dattu to form a special bench for hearing the matter on the contentious point of law.
Yakub Memon had last week filed an appeal before the apex court seeking stay of his death warrant. 53-years old Memon, whose death sentence was confirmed by the Supreme Court on 21st July, is slated to be executed on 30th July.
Finding merit in Memon’s plea, Justice Kurian Joseph observed that the, “law is not helpless and this court is not powerless to protect right to life”. He further reasoned that Memon’s curative petition needs to be heard afresh as it was dismissed without following correct procedure.
“The curative petition itself was not decided in accordance with the rules laid down by this court. That defect needs to be cured otherwise there will be a clear violation of the right to life,” said Justice Kurian Jospeh citing the procedural flaw in judicial process.
On the other hand, disagreeing with the contention, Justice Anil Dave dismissed Memon’s plea. He, however, left it for the Maharashtra Governor to take a call on the clemency plea made by Yakub Memon.
“Sorry, I will not like to be part of staying the death warrant. Let CJI decide,” opined Justice Dave while reading the split verdict.
But the bench in unanimity referred the matter before Chief Justice of India HL Dattu to constitute an appropriate bench and list the matter for a hearing on Wednesday.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and senior advocates TR Andhyarujina and Raju Ramachandran, appearing for Memon, too agreed that “there will be no order in law if one judge has stayed it and the other has not”.
In his plea filed last week, Yakub Memon has sought a stay on his execution claiming the death warrant is “illegal” because it didn’t follow “proper procedures”.
Earlier this month, a three judge bench headed by Chief Justice HL Dattu had rejected Memon’s plea reasoning that the grounds raised by him do not fall within the principles laid down by the apex court in 2002 in deciding the curative petition, the last judicial remedy available to an aggrieved person.
Yakub Memon, brother of the serial blast mastermind Tiger Memon, has been in jail since he was arrested by Nepal police at Kathmandu Airport and handed over to CBI in 1995. His accounting firm used to handle the finances of brother Tiger Memon’s illegal operations, which included lucrative silver smuggling.
257 people were killed and more than 700 were wounded in the barbaric serial blasts across India’s commercial capital which shook the entire country.
(With inputs from the PTI)