Issues notice to External Affairs Ministry, CBI, Attorney General

The Supreme Court on Friday while admitting an appeal filed by Abu Salem against the trial court order that refused to close cases against him following the order of two Portugal courts directing his re-extradition, stayed the Mumbai TADA court's proceedings in two cases against him.

A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and J. Chelameswar issued notice to the Ministry of External Affairs and the Central Bureau of Investigation returnable in four weeks. It also issued notice to Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati to assist the court in the case.

When appellant's counsel submitted that the courts in Portugal had held against the extradition of Salem and ordered re-extradition, Justice Sathasivam told him: “We have to respect the order of court of appeal of the Government of Portugal and the Supreme Court of Justice of Portugal. We find that both the courts have directed re-extradition of the appellant. An important question of law is involved in this case, whether an executive decision could affect judicial proceedings. The matter requires our consideration. We will admit the appeal.”

Salem had filed the appeal against the TADA court's order of January 31 rejecting his plea for closure of his trial. He said the High Court of Lisbon had held that the Government of India had not considered the limits imposed by the Portuguese Republic on the appellant's extradition.

He said the effect of termination of extradition order was that continuation of his trial in India would be without jurisdiction and violative of international law, standards and jurisprudence. The extradition was granted by the Portuguese government on the guarantees given by the Government of India that the appellant would not be prosecuted for offences different from those expressly indicated in the extradition order. However, in complete violation of the guarantees, he was charged for various additional offences before the TADA court.

It had further said that by prosecuting the appellant for crimes that could not be the subject matter of extradition, the Government of India had violated the ‘principle of speciality.' Salem approached the TADA court for stay of all proceedings in view of the changed circumstances but the court refused to stay or close the case. Hence, the present appeal for quashing all further proceedings in two cases and interim stay of the trial.

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