NEW DELHI -- A Supreme Court bench is currently hearing arguments by Yakub Memon challenging the death sentence handed down to him in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.
A larger bench is hearing the case today after a two-member bench was divided on the matter on Tuesday. An adverse decision at this stage will likely exhaust all legal avenues for Memon, brother of the main accused Ibrahim (Tiger) Memon. He has filed a fresh mercy plea with the President today.
The case has deeply polarised opinion after it has become increasingly clear that Memon cooperated with Indian intelligence agencies to return with family from Karachi, where they were under the protection of the Inter Services Intelligence, Pakistan's intelligence agency.
The highly respected Indian intelligence official B. Raman has written a piece confirming Yakub's cooperation, highlighting the fact that he had brought evidence that helped India prove Pakistan's involvement in the event, which was published in the news outlet Rediff.com recently.
This resulted in a petition by eminent citizens, including several former Supreme Court judges, to President Pranab Mukherjee asking for commuting Memon's death sentence.
Memon's lawyer Raju Ramachandran told the apex court that the TADA court issued a death warrant on April 30 while his curative petition was pending, and he was not given an opportunity to explain whether he had exhausted all legal remedies.
Ramachandran has also argued that while the death of warrant was issued on April 30, Memon was only told about the date of his execution on July 13.
The Maharashtra government told the court that Memon has exhausted all legal remedies, and the death sentence should be carried out as a deterrent for those who plot terror attacks against India. The government has also emphasised the need to provide closure to the families of 257 victims, who have waited 22 years for justice.
It was the black day of my life when I lost my mother in 1993 Mumbai blasts: Tushar Deshmukh pic.twitter.com/S2xAhNTWcG— ANI (@ANI_news) July 29, 2015
On Wednesday, Memon filed a fresh mercy petition with President Pranab Mukherjee.
Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Maharashtra government, has argued that Memon should not be allowed to file a series of petitions, and the matter should be closed.
On Tuesday, the two-judge bench of Justice A.R. Dave and Justice Kurian Joseph delivered a split verdict on Memon's plea, seeking stay of his execution on July 30, and referred the matter to the Chief Justice of India.
Memon's conviction will be the first execution in connection with the 1993 serial blasts.
BJP-Shiv Sena protest demanding Yakub Memon be hanged, outside Maharashtra Assembly in Mumbai. pic.twitter.com/O22Ek22lbq— ANI (@ANI_news) July 29, 2015
Memon, a chartered accountant, is the younger brother of Ibrahim Memon, also known as Tiger Memon, the prime accused in the case, who is absconding. During the course of the investigation, it was revealed that it was Tiger who got Yakub involved in the deadly attack on Mumbai.
While being convicted of a conspiracy to commit the terrorist attack, the 53-year-old has argued that he was never actually involved in executing the serial bomb blasts on March 12, 1993.
Several eminent Indians, including film makers, activists and politicians, have petitioned President Mukherjee to stay Memon's execution citing procedural lapses and "disturbing aspects of this case which make the award of death sentence of Yakub Memon as grossly unfair, arbitrary and excessive."
In a letter to Mukherjee, they wrote that Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim are the main conspirators in the case.
"Both Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim have been absconding and Yakub, brother of Tiger Memon, who was not the main actor in the conspiracy is being executed," they wrote.
Excerpts from the letter to the President
Yakub Memon was not given advance notice of the death warrant hearing and as a result of which he and his lawyers could not participate and contest the issuance of the death warrant.
As per the case of the prosecution, the 1993 bomb blasts were orchestrated by Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim to seek revenge for the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya(YakubMemon v. State of Maharashtra, (2013) 13 SCC 1 para 148, 1253). Both Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim have been absconding and Yakub, brother of Tiger Memon, who was not the main actor in the conspiracy is being executed.
The TADA Court convicted 100 persons and awarded death penalty to 11 persons. In appeal, the Supreme Court commuted the death sentences of all the convicts except Yakub Memon. In comparison to Yakub Memon, the 10 co-accused persons whose death sentences were commuted planted the bombs themselves and played a much more critical and direct role in the actual execution of the bomb blast conspiracy. Several of whom even travelled to Pakistan for arms training. This shows Yakub Abdul Razak Memon who is facing an imminent execution only on account of being Tiger Memon's younger brother.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court today dismissed the central government's curative petition, and confirmed its ruling of commuting the death sentence to life imprisonment of three persons - Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan - convicted of killing former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.