Centre to appeal to Portugal's apex court on order terminating Salem's extradition
The Union Government has urged the Delhi High Court to urgently dispose of a Delhi Police petition seeking dropping of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) charge against underworld don Abu Salem who faces prosecution in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and other criminal cases.
Making the submission before Justice V.K. Shali, Additional Solicitor-General Haren Raval said the Government wanted an early disposal of the petition as it had decided to appeal to the Constitutional Court of Portugal against the Lisbon High Court order terminating the extradition of Abu Salem to India from that country.
“The whole extradition process is in jeopardy. The CBI is going before the Constitutional Court of Portugal against the decision of the Lisbon High Court,” Mr. Raval submitted before Justice Mukta Gupta.
However, the Centre's plea for an urgent disposal of the petition was not taken up for hearing as Justice Gupta refused to hear the matter saying that she had appeared for the Delhi Police when she was a practising lawyer at the High Court.
The Delhi Police have sought that the charge be dropped in the backdrop of the Lisbon High Court order terminating Salem's extradition. India breached the extradition conditions by booking him under MCOCA which also provides for death sentence. Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005. He was booked under MCOCA by the Delhi Police for allegedly making extortion calls to a Delhi-based businessman, Ashok Gupta, in 2002.
This was done despite the fact that the conditions under which Salem was extradited from Portugal to India stated that he could not be awarded the death penalty, sentenced to more than 25 years in jail or tried under any special law of the land.
The Lisbon High Court order had come on a petition made by Abu Salem. He had moved the Court there after the Supreme Court here dismissed his petition challenging the MCOCA charge.
However, the police argued that the charge against the underworld don was framed by a local court here despite arguments by the investigating agency that it was against the terms and conditions of his extradition to face trial in the Mumbai serial blasts case of 1993.
The Court is also seized of a petition by Abu Salem challenging dismissal of an application by the city police seeking dropping of the MCOCA charge against him by the trial court.
The trial court had in 2009 dismissed the application saying that it was not in public interest. The police had sought dropping of the MCOCA charge against the accused arguing that according to the conditions for his extradition from Portugal he could be awarded the maximum punishment of 25 years of imprisonment by Indian courts while under MCOCA he could be awarded a death sentence.
The Union Government had asked the Delhi Police to approach the trial court seeking dropping of the MCOCA charge against Salem when he had approached a court in Portugal alleging that the Indian authorities were acting in contravention of the extradition conditions.