A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court today delivered a split verdict on a plea by Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, the lone death convict in 1993 Mumbai blasts case, seeking stay of his scheduled execution on July 30 and referred the matter to the Chief Justice to take call on it.
While Justice A R Dave dismissed his plea, Justice Kurian Joseph stayed the death warrant issued on April 30 for his execution on July 30. Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and other senior advocates, including Raju Ramachandran, appearing for Memon, said that since the two judges have differed on staying the death warrant, "there will be no order in law if one judge has stayed it and the other has not".
The bench referred the matter to Chief Justice of India H L Dattu to take an urgent call at 4 pm in view of the divergence of opinion on the issue of death warrant.
The bench also requested the Chief Justice to constitute an appropriate bench and list the matter for hearing tomorrow.
Justice Dave dismissed the petition filed by Memon and said it will be open for the Maharashtra Governor to dispose of his mercy plea before the scheduled date of execution of death warrant.
While rejecting the petition in which Memon has contended that the correct procedure was not adopted in deciding his curative petition on July 21, Justice Dave disagreed with Justice Kurian on the issue of staying death warrant issued by the TADA court in Mumbai on April 30.
"Sorry, I will not like to be part of staying the death warant. Let CJI decide," Justice Dave said and quoted a couplet from Manu Smriti relevant to the issue.
Justice Kurian said he is expressing his inability to agree with Justice Dave as there is a "procedural violation" in deciding the curative petition filed by Memon. Justice Kurian said once it is found that the procedure established under law is not followed while dealing with the curative petition, that too when the life of a person is concerned, and there is error apparent on the face that the mandatory process has not been followed, then such defects need to be cured.
While holding that Memon's curative petition is required to be heard afresh, Justice Kurian referred to the order dismissing his curative petition, saying, "The curative petition itself was not decided in accordance with the rules laid down by this court. That defect needs to be cured otherwise there will be a clear violation of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution." Justice Kurian said the technicalities involved in dealing with the matter should not stand in the way of justice being done to a person as this court under the Constitution is for the protection of life of a person.
He said, "The technicalities should not stand in the way as the law is for common man and also law is not helpless and this court should not be rendered powerless." He noted that Article 21 deals with the right to life of a person and same shall be deprived only in accordance with the procedure adopted by law. "It has been noticed that the procedure by law was not followed in this case while depriving the right to life of a person," he said.