Nagpur: It was an unprecedented event in the history of Indian Law of Justice which has set the finest example of how everyone should be given every chance to seek justice. For the first time ever the Supreme Court was opened for judges to hear at 3 am, the final plea against the execution of Yakub Memon for his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.
After about 90 minutes, the judges rejected Memon’s appeal to stop his execution. He was hanged in Nagpur central jail a little before 7 am.
There was much activity in the heart of Delhi post midnight as activists and a battery of lawyers moved from outside the home of Chief Justice of India HL Dattu to the Tughlak Road residence of Supreme Court judge Deepak Misra and then finally a few kilometers away to the stately Supreme Court building.
The petition was heard by a three-judge bench in court number 4 of the Supreme Court after security checks. The Supreme Court has never before been opened at 3 am for a hearing. (Timeline: 8 Hours of Dramatic Developments)
A group of lawyers gathered at the residence of the Chief Justice of India asking him to hear a fresh petition moved by Memon’s lawyers, arguing that the President could not decide on the mercy plea overnight and also that Memon’s execution should not be allowed to proceed for the next 14 days.
The mid-night judgement!
In an unprecedented move, it was finally decided that a three judge bench would meet in the Supreme Court to hear the petition at 2.30 am on Thursday, July 30. The hearing was delayed to about 3 am to allow Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi time to reach the court and prepare to argue for government against Memon’s petition.
According to the death warrant, Memon was to hang at 7 am on Thursday morning. But the lawyers contended that guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in January 2014 mandate the passage of minimum 14 days between the rejection of the final mercy plea and the execution of a prisoner.
Here is what captivated the entire night….
July 29, 9 pm : Lawyers and activists first gathered at the residence of Chief Justice of India HL Dattu in New Delhi. Hearing was later scheduled at residence of one of the judges, Justice Dipak Misra’s residence at Tuglak Road in New Delhi. Finally, hearing was shifted to the Supreme Court, which scheduled the hearing for 2.30 am.
July 30, 3.18 am : Hearing begins. The hearing on Memon’s petition lasted over an hour and half.
July 30, 4.50 am: Supreme Court announced its verdict. It dismissed Memon’s plea, clearing the way for his hanging.