Hours after the Supreme Court yesterday decided to uphold 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon's death penalty, the 52-year-old filed another mercy petition, this time to the Maharashtra governor.
Memon, who is the only convict given the death penalty in the case, handed over his mercy petition to authorities of the Nagpur Central Prison on Tuesday evening, said his lawyer Anil Gedam to PTI. According to him, Memon met Gedam in the jail soon after the Supreme Court decision, and submitted the mercy plea soon after. Shubal Farooque, Memon's Delhi-based lawyer, also met him on Tuesday.
This is a last-ditch effort to prevent his execution scheduled for July 30.
Gedam told PTI that Memon's first mercy plea was filed by his brother Suleman. This is the first mercy petition filed by Yakub himself. Jail superintendent Yogesh Desai did not respond to PTI when approached for his comment.
'A Regressive Step'
Meanwhile international human rights NGO Amnesty said that Supreme Court's rejection of Memon's mercy plea is a "disappointing and regressive step".
“More than a dozen death sentences were commuted in progressive judgments by the Supreme Court last year,” said Divya Iyer, Research Manager at Amnesty International India. "[The] judgement, in contrast, regrettably puts India in opposition to the global trend towards moving away from the death penalty."
The India wing of the NGO said that Memon's hanging would not bring justice in the serial blasts case, as the suspected masterminds of the incident are yet to be brought to book.
“Serious questions have also been raised regarding Yakub Memon’s execution and whether it is guided by political motivations. According to media reports, he spent time in solitary confinement, which is unconstitutional," said Iyer.
“Lawmakers in India often find it convenient to hold up capital punishment as a symbol of their resolve to tackle crime, and choose to ignore more difficult and effective solutions like improving investigations, prosecutions and care for victims’ families.”
Arguing that there was no reliable evidence to suggest that the death penalty would be a deterrent to crime rather than a prison sentence, the NGO quoted the findings of the 2012 Justice Verma committee, which said “there is considerable evidence that the deterrent effect of death penalty on serious crimes is actually a myth”.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu had earlier yesterday rejected Memon's curative petition, saying the grounds raised by him do not fall within the principles laid down by the apex court in 2002.
The serial blasts in March 1993 had left 257 dead and over 700 injured. Yakub Memon is the only convict whose death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court. President Pranab Mukherjee had rejected his mercy petition in May 2014.
(with PTI inputs)