NEW DELHI: Convicted as conspirator in the 1993 Mumbai blasts that killed over 250, former chartered accountant Yakub Memon could dodge the hangman’s noose set for July 30, if a growing campaign by leading jurists and intellectuals persuades the Indian president to grant him mercy, reports said on Sunday.
The campaign which turned into a petition signed among others by several former judges of the supreme court is built on compelling premises. It reaffirms that India is legally and morally bound to reject capital punishment because it is a signatory to the UN covenants against the death sentence. Unless the parliament takes a decision to withdraw from the covenants, the state is legally bound to abide by the UN General Assembly’s 1966 principles.
The second point raised by the petition says Mr Memon was not given due prior notice about the date of his hanging, thus robbing him of a fair chance to seek redressal from the highest court.
And finally, the petitioners have attached a 2007 article by a former RAW officer who was instrumental in luring Yakub Memon back to the country in 1994 after he fled Mumbai ahead of the blasts. The late B. Raman had argued that Memon was an asset in the prosecution case, and had willingly surrendered to the Indian police in Kathmandu to break away from the other conspirators, including his brother.
Leaders of various parties, including Bharatiya Janata Party MP Shatrughan Sinha and its expelled MP Ram Jethmalani, eminent jurists and persons from different walks of life on Sunday submitted the fresh petition to President Pranab Mukherjee requesting him to waive off the death sentence of Yakub Memon.
The petition has come at a time when there is a huge political controversy over Memon’s hanging and the BJP has condemned the remarks by parties against the hanging of Memon saying such a defence is happening due to “petty politics”.
BJP MP Sinha, who had a day before met and praised Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, has once again gone against the party’s stand on the Memon issue.
In the 15-page petition, the signatories have cited various legal points and international commitments to argue that Memon should not be hanged.
“We most humbly request your excellency to consider the case of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon and spare him from the noose of death for a crime that was master-minded by someone else to communally divide the country.
“Grant of mercy in this case will send out a message that while this country will not tolerate acts of terrorism, as a nation we are committed to equal application of the power of mercy and values of forgiveness, and justice. Blood letting and human sacrifice will not make this country a safer place; it will, however, degrade us all,” the signatories said.
Besides Sinha and Jethmalani, those who have signed the petition include MPs like Mani Shankar Aiyar from the Congress, Majeed Memon from the Nationalist Congress Party, Sitaram Yechury of the Communist Party of India-Marxist, D. Raja of the CPI, K.T.S Tulsi and H.K. Dua (nominated) and T. Siva of the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham, former CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat, CPI(ML)-Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, Brinda Karat of the CPI-M and filmmakers and actors like Naseeruddin Shah and Mahesh Bhatt. Mahatma Gandhi’s great grandson Tushar Gandhi also pleaded to save Memon’s life.
It also included various academicians, members of the legal fraternity, activists and retired judges -- Justice Panachand Jain, Justice H.S. Bedi, Justice P.B. Sawant, Justice H. Suresh, Justice K.P. Siva Subramaniam, Justice S.N. Bhargava, retired Justice K. Chandru, and Justice Nagmohan Das, noted lawyer Indira Jaising.
Others include academicians like Irfan Habib, Arjun Dev, D.N. Jha, and social activists Aruna Roy, Jean Dreze and John Dayal.
Published in Dawn, July 27th, 2015