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1993 Mumbai blasts case: SC grants six weeks to CBI

Supreme Court today granted six weeks more to CBI and others to file their responses on the plea of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbaiserial blasts case, seeking review of death penalty awarded to him.

The court, which had earlier stayed the execution of Memon’s capital punishment, posted the matter for hearing on March 11.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice A R Dave, is giving an open hearing to the matter.

The counsel appearing for Memon had argued before the bench, which also comprised justices J Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph, that neither the trial court, nor the apex court gave special reasons for sending him to gallows.

“My entire conviction is based on retracted confessions of several co-accused,” his lawyer had said, adding, “the judgement under review does not talk about the fact and evidence that I took part in any terrorist activities”.

When the court had issued notice to CBI and Maharashtragovernment, the lawyer had also alleged that Memon was convicted and sentenced to death by the special TADA court, even before the entire judgement was delivered. Hence, his conviction was not valid.

Earlier, the review petitions used to be decided in chambers, but later, the apex court had ruled that such pleas, if directed against the imposition of death penalty, would be heard in open court.

The apex court had, on September 26 last, sought response from Maharashtra government and others on Memon’s plea that his review petition against the death penalty be heard in open court. It had also stayed Memon’s execution.

A constitution bench of the apex court had on June 2 held that years spent behind bars during prolonged judicial proceedings cannot be a ground for converting death sentence to life imprisonment and review plea of condemned prisoners must be given an open court hearing.

Taking a cue from the judgement by the constitution bench, Memon had said in his plea that according to the verdict, his review plea should be heard in an open court.

Memon is the third death row convict, after Nithari rapist-cum-serial killer Surinder Koli, who had approached the apex court seeking hearing of their respective review pleas in an open court.

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