SC bench differs on execution, refers plea to larger bench

Yakub Memon death plea

MUMBAI: Yakub Memon’s petition against his death warrant was referred to a larger bench on Tuesday after a sharp difference in opinion cropped up between the two judges hearing the case.

Memon’s petition challenged the Maharashtra government’s death warrant on the ground that the warrant was issued prematurely before he had exhausted all the legal remedies available to him.

One of the judges, Justice Anil Dave, dismissed the petition and ordered for the execution to go ahead as scheduled on July 30. The other judge, Justice Kurian Joseph, however, agreed with Memon’s contention and ordered for the curative petition to be heard again as the proper procedures had not been followed the first time around. Memon’s curative petition was dismissed on July 21.

Given the stalemate, Chief Justice HL Dattu will now set up a larger bench to decide on Memon’s petition.

Apart from this Supreme Court petition, Memon has another mercy petition pending with the Maharashtra governor. However, chances of that being upheld are seen to be slim.

Yakub Memon was held guilty of being a part of the conspiracy to plant a series of bombs in 1993 in Mumbai which lead to the deaths of 257 people. His brother, Tiger Memon was also one of the main accused along with Dawood Ibrahim, both of whom are thought to be in Pakistan.

Yakub Memon is the only person involved in the blast case to face death. His mercy petition with the President of India was rejected in May 2014.

Memon left India one day before a series of blasts hit Mumbai’s landmarks including the Stock Exchange in 1993, killing 257 people. He was produced in a Mumbai court in August 1994 amid conflicting versions of whether he surrendered in Nepal, or was arrested in New Delhi.

Recent revelations about an unpublished column by B Raman, a former senior official of the Research and Analysis Wing, who coordinated the operation for Memon’s return from Karachi,  are also expected to play a role later on, though they have not figured in legal arguments so far. “The cooperation of Yakub with the investigating agencies after he was picked up informally in Kathmandu and his role in persuading some other members of the family to come out of Pakistan and surrender constitute, in my view, a strong mitigating circumstance to be taken into consideration while considering whether the death penalty should be implemented,” Raman wrote.

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