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Prospect of split verdict writ large in Yakub Memon case

Yakub Menon

The possibility of a split verdict on the plea of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, the lone death row convict in 1993 Mumbai blasts case, against his execution was writ large at the outset in Supreme Court today, as one of the judges made it clear that he would not hear any other related petition.

“Nothing to be heard along with this (Yakub’s plea),” Justice A R Dave, heading the bench that also comprised Justice Kurian Joseph, said when Memon’s lawyer pointed out that a fresh plea has been filed in pursuance of a “serious” query raised by Justice Joseph yesterday on procedures relating to curative petitions.

Justice Joseph had sought clarifications from Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi by saying that curative petitions should have been circulated among the three senior-most judges of the apex court and thereafter, would have been placed before the judges who decided the appeals and the review pleas, if they were available.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appearing for Memon, said the fresh plea, which is yet to be listed, dealt with the issue raised by Justice Joseph that the judges, who dealt with review plea, should be part of the bench deciding with curative petition.

“This is not just called for. With respect, I say no. This cannot be added,” Justice Dave said.

“We are bound to reply to queries raised by My Lord,” the counsel for Memon said.

“The judges, who were part of judicial process earlier, must be party to curative petition. It cannot be decided by judges who are strangers to the matters,” Ramachandran said, asking, “how can strangers to the judicial process decide the curative petition”.

He said this defect adversely impacted the right to life of the convict and the decision on curative plea was “liable to be challenged and clearly wrong”.

Senior advocates T R Andhyarujina and Anand Grover also supported the submissions of the counsel for Memon.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi rebutted the submission on procedural aspects pertaining to curative petition, saying “this is not the point raised in the petition”.

The only point raised is that the death warrant issued by the TADA court was illegal, he said, adding that no other petition can be filed before this court and “this has to be done before the Chief Justice of India.

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