The 1993 Mumbai blasts accused and death row convict Yakub Memon on Thursday moved the Supreme Court against his execution scheduled for July 30. Memon said that the death warrant by the TADA court on April 29, was issued before all his legal options were exhausted. He had contented that the death warrant was issued even as his curative petition was pending before the Supreme Court.
The 53-year-old’s new petition says the death warrant issued for his hanging on July 30 was against the principles of natural justice and due process of law was not followed.
Memon's brother, underworld don Tiger Memon, and Dawood Ibrahim are the masterminds of the Mumbai attacks and remain missing. Yakub Memon, a trained Chartered Accountant, returned to India in 1994, protesting his innocence. He said he had surrendered to cooperate with the investigation; but officials said he had been arrested.
He was then convicted in 2007 by a Mumbai court for financing the terror attack and arranging for the training of terrorists in Pakistan. The death sentence given to him was upheld by higher courts in later years.
>The Supreme Court’s dismissal of the curative petition may not mean the end of his legal journey.
On May 27, a Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and U.U. Lalit quashed the death warrant issued against a couple, Shabnam and Saleem, guilty of murdering seven members of a family. In its order, the Supreme Court laid down “essential safeguards” available to a death row convict before a death warrant was issued by a lower court.
The essence of this judgment was that death warrants could not be issued unilaterally by lower courts without following the due process of law under Article 21 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court sent a clear message that death row convicts had to be heard first before the courts fixed the time of their execution. Not doing so was against the principles of natural justice.
Lower courts were bound to issue prior and sufficient notice to the death row convict to enable him or her to consult his advocates and to be represented in the proceedings on the issuance of the warrant.
Besides this, a copy of the execution warrant must be immediately supplied to the convict and legal aid should be provided to the convict, if necessary.
Though the death warrant in the Memon case was not “open-ended”, whether the rest of the procedure was followed by the court was a question of fact on which a challenge may rise in a higher court of law.
Legal experts say that a writ petition can be filed in the Supreme Court on the basis of this judgment.
Mercy petition filed by Mr. Memon’s brother, Suleiman, to spare his brother's life was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee in May 2014. But this does not prevent Yakub Memon from moving his own mercy petition as a matter of right, and even challenge its dismissal in a court of law.