The Central Bureau of Investigation on Tuesday said it was exploring “other available legal options” to bring back Abu Salem, after India’s plea to extradite the underworld don was turned down by the Constitutional Court of Portugal on the ground that it did not have locus standi or legitimacy.
“The CBI had done its very best to get Salem extradited in 2005, to face trial in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. It is due to the CBI’s painstaking efforts that Salem is now facing trial in several cases. The CBI has also been pursuing legal efforts by the governments of India and Portugal,” the agency said in a statement.
In its order, The Constitutional Court of Portugal said India could not suo motu approach the top court challenging the order of its Supreme Court earlier this year. The Portugal Supreme Court had upheld a lower court order cancelling extradition of Salem for violation of deportation rules by the Indian authorities who slapped on him new charges which attracted the death penalty.
Abu Salem Abdul Qayoom Ansari is also an accused in several other cases of heinous offences, slapped by other law enforcement agencies, which are under various stages of trial. He was extradited on November 11, 2005 from Portugal, where he had been arrested in 2002, along with his partner Monica Bedi.
Notably, during the course of the trials in India, Salem challenged the charges framed against him, alleging that some of these were not in accordance with the conditions laid down by the Portuguese authorities. Significantly, the Delhi and Mumbai police had slapped charges which attract the death penalty. . Later, the police wanted to withdraw the charges but the courts did not approve of the decision. This led to a legal battle, which ended in the Supreme Court rejecting the underworld don’s plea in September 2010.
The courts in India rejected his contention and held that the charges were framed by the trial court, keeping in view the provisions of the Indian Extradition Act, which permit framing of charges for ‘lesser offences’. The Supreme Court of India also dismissed Salem’s appeal and held that framing of charges by the trial court was in accordance with law, as they provided for a lesser sentence than what the offences, for which his extradition was granted, entailed.
Significantly, at the time of Salem’s extradition, India had given a solemn assurance to Portugal that he would not be awarded the death penalty and would not be detained in custody for over 25 years. “None of these assurances has been violated,” a CBI spokesperson said.
Salem simultaneously filed a petition in the High Court of Lisbon, alleging that he was charged for certain offences, not in keeping with his extradition. The Portugal High Court allowed his petition. The public prosecutor of Portugal filed an appeal in the Supreme Court of Justice, Portugal but it was not accepted.
However, India also filed an appeal against the Portugal High Court, but it was not considered on the grounds that it had no locus standi/legitimacy.
Keywords: Abu Salem extradition