Yakub Memon, the lone 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict facing gallows, was hanged to death today after his last ditch attempts to get a reprieve failed early this morning in the Supreme Court.
Memon was hanged shortly before 7 am at the Central Jail here, top official sources said.
The execution was carried out about two hours after his lawyers last-gasp plea to get the death warrant stayed was dismissed by the Supreme Court in an unprecedented hearing that began in the wee hours and ended at dawn.
The body of Memon, who would have turned 53 today, would be handed over to his relatives who have been camping here in a hotel after completion of formalities.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is likely to make a statement on the issue in the state Assembly today.
The Supreme Court decision came after a day of fast-paced developments on Wednesday when the court had upheld the death warrant and the President rejected Memon’s mercy petition a little before 11 pm on the advice of the government.
“Stay of death warrant would be a travesty of justice.
The plea is dismissed,” said Justice Dipak Misra, heading a three-judge bench, delivering the order in Court Room 4 which sealed Memon’s fate.
Memon's right to life
In a late night move, Memon’s lawyer mounted a last-ditch effort to save him from the gallows when they rushed to the residence of Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu and petitioned him for an urgent hearing to stay the hanging on the ground that 14 days’ time needed to be given to a death row convict to enable him challenge the rejection of his plea and for other purposes.
After consultations, the CJI constituted the same three-judge bench that had earlier decided on the death warrant issue to go into the late night plea.
Memon’s senior counsels Anand Grover and Yug Chowdhury said the authorities were “hell bent” on executing him without giving him the right to challenge the rejection of his mercy petition by the President as right to life of a condemned prisoner lasts till his last breath.
Grover said a death row convict is entitled to 14 days reprieve after rejection of mercy plea for various purposes.
Opposing Memon’s plea, Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi contended his fresh petition amounted to abusing the system.
A death warrant upheld just 10 hours ago by three judges cannot be quashed, he said, adding the whole attempt appeared intended to prolong his stay in jail and get the sentence commuted.
Challenging rejection of mercy petition
Dictating the order for the bench, Justice Misra said ample opportunity was granted to Memon after rejection of the first mercy petition by the President on April 11, 2014 which was communicated to him on May 26, 2014.
He said the rejection could have been challenged before the Supreme Court.
The first mercy petition had been filed on Memon’s behalf by his brother.
Justice Misra observed that ample time was granted to the convict after rejection of his first mercy petition to prepare himself for the last and final meeting with family members and all other purposes.
“As a consequence, if we have to stay the death warrant it would be a travesty of justice,” the bench said, adding “we do not find any merit in the writ petition”.
The Supreme Court while pronouncing its order earlier on Memon’s petition seeking a stay on his execution yesterday had said, “We have not perceived any error in the death warrant issued by the TADA court on April 30 for the execution on July 30.
The bench said the AG had submitted that at the drop of a hat one can add new challenges and developments and expect the President to act in exercise of power under Article 72 and thereafter on rejection of clemency they would challenge that in a court of law.
“We will be failing in our duty by allowing so,” it said.
The court observed in the first glance the submissions made on behalf of Memon looked attractive but on finer consideration the case did not carry much weight.
Reacting to the order, Grover said it was a tragic mistake and a wrong decision.
The AG said the legal process has come to an end and it was not a question of victory.