SC hearing of Yakub mercy petition will continue tommorow; Govt argues against him as country gets divided on issue
NewDelhi/Nagpur: The Supreme Court on Monday was hearing the petition of Yakub Memon, the lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts, who has sought a stay on his execution set for July 30 on the ground that he has not exhausted all legal remedies available to him.
Memon, who has spent over two decades in jail, had also said that the death warrant for his execution was issued when his curative petition was pending consideration by the court. The AG has opposed the petition arguing that Yakub Memon has already exhausted all avenues of justice and his hanging must go ahead as planned on 30th July.
Meanwhile, the whole build up to this case is such that the whole country is getting more and more fragmented and divided over the issue of should Yakub hang?
A day ahead of the SC hearing of his last-ditch appeal, hundreds of politicians, jurists and activists appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee to spare Yakub’s life, adding fuel to a raging debate over the issue on a day actor Salman Khan sought mercy for the death row convict.
The signatories included eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani, BJP’s Shatrughan Sinha, Congress’s Mani Shankar Aiyer, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, actor Naseeruddin Shah, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, activist Tushar Gandhi, lawyer Vrinda Grover and economist Jean Dreze.
“Blood-letting and human sacrifice will not make this country a safer place; it will, however, degrade us all,” said the signatories. “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.”
Bollywood superstar Khan had posted a series of tweets on Sunday to argue against Memon’s hanging but later apologised as his comments sparked strong reactions from all sections of society including his fans.His own father disagreed.
“I had tweeted that Tiger Memon should hang for his crimes and I stand by it,” he said, referring to the convict’s brother. “What i also said is that Yakub Memon should not hang for him. I have not said or implied that Yakub Memon is innocent.”
The clarification from Khan, who was himself convicted in a deadly hit-and-run accident this year, came after dozens of angry protesters, many of them shouting slogans and waving BJP flags, gathered outside his Mumbai home and demanded an apology.
Even as people as still queuing up to buy tickets for his movie Bajrangi Bhaijan, protests erupted against Khan in several parts of the state and revenue minister Eknath Khadse said those sympathising with Memon should also be punished, while special prosecutor in the blasts case, Ujjwal Nikam, called the actor’s tweets an attempt to “undermine the image of the Indian Judiciary.”
AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi also sparked a row by saying Yakub was being hanged because he belonged to a particular religion while the death sentences of those convicted in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi were commuted to life imprisonment.
In response, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday said efforts were being made to give communal colour to the death penalty to Yakub and asked people not to question the court verdict.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said the court’s decision had come and “we must all follow the course of the law”, but questioned the BJP government for supporting the hanging of Yakub while “asking agencies to proceed slowly in bomb blast cases like Malegaon, Modasa, Samjhauta express, Ajmer Dargah Sharif involving people from the Sangh”.