New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon's plea against his death sentence to a larger bench. The execution has been stayed following differences of opinion between the two judges hearing the matter.
Justice Kurian Joseph said that curative petition needs to be heard again as due process of law was not followed whereas Justice Anil R Dave refused to stay Memon's execution.
In the common order, the matter has been referred to the Chief Justice of India who will take a call at 4 PM on the issue.
Justice Kurian said curative petition of Memon needs to be heard afresh as it was dismissed without following correct procedure and rules laid down by this court. He added defect in deciding curative petition needs to be cured otherwise there will be clear violation of Right to Life of convict under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Justice Kurian said that the error was apparent on the face in deciding the curative petition. "This court under the Constitution is for the protection of life of a person, it is not helpless and courts like Supreme Court should not be rendered powerless," said Kurian.
Senior advocates, including Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for either side, said that there would be no order in law if one judge stays death warrant and other doesn't.
The judges were of the view that the Chief Justice of India would constitute a bench and keep the matter for hearing on Wednesday itself.
Memon has challenged the Maharashtra government ordering the death warrant before his curative petition was heard by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court had on July 21 dismissed Memon's curative petition against death sentence. The curative petition was the last legal recourse available for Memon.
On July 15, the Maharashtra government had decided to execute Memon on July 30.
Memon was sentenced to death by a designated TADA court in 2007, after being found guilty of criminal conspiracy.
Memon is convicted for criminal conspiracy under Section 120-B of the IPC, aiding, abetting and facilitating a terrorist act, illegal possession and transportation of arms and ammunition and possessing explosives with intent to endanger lives.
In March 2013, the apex court had rejected Memon's appeal against conviction by TADA court. In May 2014, then President rejected Memon's mercy petition and in April 2015, the Supreme Court rejected Memon's review petition against conviction and sentence.
According to investigating agency, Tiger Memon got Yakub involved in planning and plotting the serial blasts that killed at least 257 people and injured about 700 on March 12, 1993.
What happened in the court:
# Two judge bench comprising of Justice Dave and Justice Kurian heard the matter today
# There was difference of opinion between two judges hearing the matter
# Justice Dave finds no merit in the petition of Yakub
# Justice Kurian raises question on the number of judges who should have heard the curative petition
# Justice Kurian was of the opinion that process of deciding Yakub's curative petition was vitiated and it needs to be decided again