SC dismisses Memon’s plea, Maharashtra braces for hanging

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New Delhi/Mumbai, July 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition of 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts convict Yakub Memon that sought stay on his execution on Thursday. The BJP and the Congress said the legal process has been followed, but the AIMIM claimed Memon was being executed due to lack of “political backing”.

The bench of Justice Dipak Mishra, Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Justice Amitava Roy gave its awaited verdict in the afternoon, saying “issuance of death warrant cannot be faulted with”.

Following the court verdict, Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao rejected Memon’s plea for clemency.

However, Memon, 53, filed a fresh mercy petition before President Pranab Mukherjee to escape the gallows which has been forwarded to the home ministry.

The Maharashtra government is gearing up to execute Memon at 7 a.m. on Thursday at the Nagpur Central Jail following rejection of his pleas.

The state government has deployed additional security in and around the jail premises, outside Memon’s residence in Mahim in Mumbai and other sensitive spots across the state to prevent any adverse fallout.

Pronouncing the court order, Justice Misra said “we don’t find any legal fallacy” with the issuance of death warrant by the TADA court.

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.

On the reference, the court said the curative petition that “was decided by the three seniormost judges cannot be regarded as void or inappropriate” in context of the principle that was laid down by this court in an earlier judgment famously known as the Hurra case.

“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 seniormost judges has to be regarded to be correct and not vitiated by any procedural irregularity”.

Memon and 11 others were slapped with the death penalty by the special TADA court in July 2007 for the 13 serial blasts in July 1993 in which 257 people were killed and 712 were injured.

The apex court on March 21, 2013 had upheld Memon’s death sentence while commuting others to life imprisonment. One of the convicts died later.

Memon’s curative petition was dismissed on July 21 by the apex court bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu, Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Anil R. Dave.

Prior to it, Memon — the brother of one of the main absconding accused, Ibrahim alias Tiger Memon — appealed against the sentence in the Bombay High Court, the Supreme Court and later filed a mercy petition with the president, followed by a review petition, and then a second review petition.

The apex court on March 21, 2013, while upholding the death sentence, had said his “deeds can’t be viewed distinct from the act of Tiger Memon, hence, both owe an equivalent responsibility for the blasts”.

Prominent citizens and leaders from four political parties were among around 200 people who on Sunday urged President Pranab Mukherjee to reconsider the mercy plea.

Those who endorsed the petition included BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha, Congress’s Mani Shankar Aiyer, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D. Raja, actor Naseeruddin Shah, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, activist Tushar Gandhi, lawyer Vrinda Grover and economist Jean Dreze.

The petition asked the president to stay the imminent execution “so that the substantive and fresh grounds” raised can be considered on merits.

Reacting to the verdict, BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said: “You have to accept what the Supreme Court has said and it has upheld the entire process.”

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “We would only think that due process has been followed and Yakub Memon has been dealt an accordance of law of this country. Terrorism is terrorism and has to be dealt with an accordance with law.”

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, however, said it was a “fact that Memon surrendered and was not arrested” and cooperated with the investigation agencies.