Pardoning Yakub Memon will be a tribute to Dr. Kalam: Gopalkrishna Gandhi

In an impassioned plea to the President, the former Governor of West Bengal, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, has invoked the late A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's opposition to the death penalty to urge a reconsideration of the rejection of Yakub Memon's mercy plea. Here is the full text of his appeal:

Gopalkrishna Gandhi

His Excellency

The President of India,

Esteemed Rashtrapati ji.


At this point in time, when the nation is paying solemn tribute to former President (Dr.) A.P.J. Abdul Kalam whose conscientious opposition to the death penalty is widely known, I urge you to reconsider the rejection of Yakub Memon’s mercy plea. In fact, President Kalam had, as recently as earlier this month, expressed his opposition to the concept of capital punishment. He expressed this opinion to the Law Commission, which has been holding deliberations regarding the desirability and efficacy of the death penalty. It would, I suggest, be a fitting tribute to the humane legacy of President Kalam to grant Yakub Memon his life, for which course there are also other compelling reasons.

It was in 1997 that Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma the President of India, upon an appeal by Mahashweta Devi and other eminent citizens granted reprieve to two boys from Andhra Pradesh, though their own mercy petitions had earlier been rejected by the President’s office. The reprieve in that case came virtually on the eve of their scheduled execution, and established the supreme constituent power of the President of India under Article 72 of the Constitution, to reverse his earlier decision, and heed voices of conscience to commute a death sentence.

Yakub Memon submitted to Indian jurisdiction, when he may quite easily have evaded justice. A respected officer of Indian intelligence has spoken of his cooperation with the law, thus rendering the death penalty completely inappropriate in his case. Former Supreme Court judges have openly said that his execution would be unjust. Public protestations of this nature and from such quarters are rare. They must give us pause, for whether or not there was a secret understanding with Memon that is being disregarded, a doubt would irretrievably be cast on India’s integrity of process if in the face of this, Yakub Memon is executed.

As many as 300 persons from all walks of life including former judges, lawyers, politicians and others have appealed to Your Excellency.

The head of the Indian republic, as President K.R. Narayanan memorably said, is guided by the prerogatives the Constitution gives him, and the privilege of intervention which his vast moral influence confers on him. I understand that this is also the broad position in law as enunciated in the Kehar Singh judgment of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.

Less than a fortnight ago, the Law Commission of India held a day long consultation on Capital Punishment. I cannot say what conclusions the Law Commission will draw from these deliberations. I can, however, suggest that this, and other cases where mercy is sought will be understood more fully once the deliberations of the Commission are received.

I am sharing this letter with the press as this is a matter of urgent, general and public interest.

In the confidence that you will consider this representation, I am,

Yours truly,

Gopalkrishna Gandhi

Hanging in the balance

A little over 20 years after 13 co-ordinated blasts rocked Mumbai, killing 257 and injuring over 700, the lone convict on death, Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, could be hanged on July 30 if the SC rejects his curative petition against death sentence.

>From messenger to mastermind

Yakub Memon would pay for his brother's sins and become the only man to be sentenced to death in the Mumbai blasts case.

>Trial and error

Trial courts have been handing out death sentences at the rate of ten a month for the last 15 years.

>Why the death penalty must end:

The world is moving away from using the death penalty. The European Union has made "abolition of death penalty" a prerequisite for membership: says Kanimozhi


  • 1993
    • March 12: Thirteen explosions rock Mumbai killing 257 and injuring 713 others.
    • April 19: Actor Sanjay Dutt arrested.
    • November 4: 10,000 page-long charge sheet filed against 189 accused, including Dutt.
    • November 19: Case handed over to CBI
  • 1994
    • April 1: TADA court shifted inside Arthur Road Central Jail premises.
    • April 10: 26 accused discharged by the TADA court. SC discharges two more accused – travel agent Abu Asim Azmi and Amjed Meher Baux.
    • April 19: Trial commences.
    • June 30: Two accused, Mohammed Jameel and Usman Jhankanan, turn approvers.
    • October 14: Sanjay Dutt granted bail by Supreme Court.
    • March 29: P.D. Kode designated as a special TADA judge for the case.
  • 2000
    • October: Examination of 684 prosecution witnesses ends.
    • Mar 9 - July 18, 2001: Accused record their statements
    • August 9: Prosecution begins arguments.
    • October 18: Prosecution completes arguments
    • November 9: Defence starts arguments
  • 2002
    • August 22: Defence closes arguments.
  • 2003
    • February 20: Dawood gang member Ejaz Pathan produced in court.
    • March 20: Mustafa Dossa's remand proceedings and trial separated.
    • September: Trial ends. Court reserves judgement.
  • 2006
    • June: Gangster Abu Salem's trial separated.
    • September 12: Court starts delivering the judgement, pronounces four members of the Memon family guilty and acquits three. 12 convicts awarded death penalty while 20 were given life sentence.
  • 2011
    • November 1: SC begins hearing on appeals filed by the 100 convicts as well as the state.
  • 2012
    • August 29: SC reserves its order on the appeals.
  • 2013
    • March 21: SC upholds death sentence of convict Yakub Memon, brother of Tiger Memon, and commutes death sentence of 10 convicts to life term. Life imprisonment of 16 out of 18 convicts also upheld. >Read more
  • 2014
    • May: President Pranab Mukherjee rejects Yakub's mercy plea. >Read more
    • June 2: SC stays Memon's execution on plea seeking review petitions in death cases to be heard in open court instead of chambers. >Read more
  • 2015
    • April 9: SC dismisses Memon's petition seeking review of death sentence which was upheld by apex court.
    • July 21: SC rejects Memon's curative petition, the last legal remedy to avoid execution of death sentence. >Read more

>A case for mercy

Hanging Yakub Memon will be cruel and inhuman. Meanwhile, the masterminds of the attack remain out of reach.

>From 'best' CA to death row detenu

Yakub was once named the best chartered accountant by the Memon community

>Justice or vengeance?

Procedure followed to obtain death warrant for Yakub Memon suffers from serious constitutional flaws

>Yakub Memon and the story of the death penalty

This will be India's third execution since it lifted its informal 8-year moratorium

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 11:39:22 AM |

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