NEW DELHI -- An unprecedented early morning hearing is underway in the Supreme Court as death row convict Yakub Memon's lawyers are trying to stay his execution, scheduled for 7am on Thursday, or in a few hours. The early morning hearing is underway even as a police constable has handed over a confidential letter to Memon's family in Nagpur. The 1993 blasts case convict is housed in the Nagpur Central Jail.
A battery of lawyers including Prashant Bhushan and Indira Jaisingh are currently seeking a 14-day stay on Memon's execution on the ground that the rules of Maharashtra jail manual does not allow death penalty to be carried out immediately after the rejection of the mercy plea by the President, a decision that came through earlier on Wednesday evening.
The prosecution, represented by attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, will argue that his mercy petition had been rejected previously and Wednesday's rejection cannot be seen as the time from which the countdown must begin.
President Pranab Mukherjee rejected a fresh mercy petition filed by Memon on Wednesday night.
“It is necessary that a minimum period of 14 days be stipulated between the receipt of communication of the rejection of the mercy petition and the scheduled date of execution,” according to a January 2014 verdict at the SC.
According to multiple reports, Mukherjee rejected the plea late Wednesday night after referring the matter first to the Ministry of Home Affairs earlier today. Home Minister Rajnath Singh later called the President conveying the government's view that the mercy petition should be rejected.
Singh is believed to have come to the decision after meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh and top officials, including Home Secretary L C Goyal at the PM's residence earlier on Wednesday evening. The President acts on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers.
Law Secretary P K Malhotra too had held discussions on the issue with the Home Secretary earlier today. Rashtrapati Bhavan is yet to make its decision public, even as Memon's execution is scheduled hours away.
Memon is supposed to be hanged at Nagpur jail after the Supreme Court dismissed his petition against the death warrant on the ground that it was issued before his curative plea was heard by the court.
(with PTI inputs)