New Delhi: The Supreme Court today further stayed the execution of Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, lone death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, and sought responses from Maharashtra Special Task Force and CBI on his plea seeking review of death penalty awarded to him.
In an open court hearing, a three-judge bench, headed by Justice A R Dave, said the execution of Memon shall remain stayed during the pendency of his review petition against the imposition of death penalty and fixed the matter for further hearing on January 28, 2015.
"We are issuing notice," the bench, also comprising justices J Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph, said. The counsel appearing for Memon said 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 said, adding, "the judgement under review does not talk about the fact and evidence that I took part in any terrorist activities". The lawyer also alleged that Memon was convicted and then 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, sought response from Maharashtra government and others on a plea of Memon that his review petition against the death penalty be heard in open court.
It had also stayed the execution of Memon. 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.