By Aishwarya Nag Choudhury
WHAT DIVIDED THE TWO JUDGES
The bench comprising of Justice AR Dave and Justice Joseph Kurien dealing with Yakub Abdul Razak Memon’s case had contradictory views pertaining to the question of life and death and the validity of judicial proceedings.
While Justice Joseph questioned the SC’s order of July 21 rejecting Memon’s curative petition, Justice Dave felt that Memon had exhausted all his legal remedies and his present petition against the warrant claiming that the SC rejected his curative exercise is futile. Further, Justice Dave was of the opinion that Yakub’s legal counsel, senior advocates TR Andhyarujina and Raju Ramachandran were “passing the buck” to the CJI. Addressing them, he further said “I hope you know who you are trying to save.”
Justice Joseph was of the opinion that Dave should have been part of the curative bench as he was one of the three judges who rejected Memon’s plea. However, the judges for Memon’s case in 2013, Justice PS Sathavisan and Justice BS Chauhan had unanimously upheld the verdict of death penalty in the TADA court on July 2007. Justice Joseph said that since Memon’s petition was against the dismissal of review, he should be able to hear it.
The two judges could not come to a unanimous decision and the matter was passed on for further hearing to the CJI. The bench also asked Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi of the Maharashtra Government to clarify the rules regarding curative petitions.
THE SC JUDGEMENT
A new and larger SC bench, modelled on the recommendations of the CJI met today and dismissed Memon’s mercy plea. The bench did not find any problems with the issuance of the death penalty by TADA.
Memon’s execution is scheduled for Thursday, July 30 for his role in the Mumbai Blasts case. “After the rejection of mercy petition by the President, Memon had not challenged that in the court of law,” the SC bench said.
Earlier, Maharashtra governor Vidyasagar Rao on Wednesday rejected Yakub Memon’s mercy petition. However, Yakub filed a fresh mercy petition with the President on Wednesday. That is his last hope now.
WHAT ‘WE THE PEOPLE’ HAVE TO SAY
With the final verdict of the Court, we at NewsGram asked some teachers, students and young professionals about their opinion on the question of the death penalty and Memon. Here’s what they had to say:
Professor of Terrorism and National Security, at JNU (Delhi) Dr. Anupama Roy says that constitutionally Memon’s case falls under the “rarest of rare cases”. She says she honestly feels that the time of fourteen years is not enough to reform the defendant because of “the intensity of his crime”. “That leaves us with two options: life imprisonment or prison time. As in the Western countries, we should also abolish death sentences, and stick to life imprisonment” she said.
Shreya Rashid, pursuing MA in Philosophy in JNU was of the same opinion. She called the verdict a “denial of justice”. “To subject a self- surrendering person to death, questions the credibility of our legal system. Crime as his should be negatively rewarded with imprisonment, but a death verdict is not justified,” she explained.
Shreyanko Basu, a Teach for India fellow is of the opinion that the SC verdict is justified. According to him, “terrorism cannot be stalled until befitting punishment is given. The number of lives lost in the bomb blast can never be replaced. Then why should he (Memon) be spared?”
Professor of Political Science at JNU Dr. TG Suresh said that jail time is as good as a death penalty. “Isolation is worse than death in many ways. Yakub should be made to serve more time in jail”. ”Our Judicial system is anyway a torture” the professor jokingly added.
“In my opinion, Yakub Memon should not be granted mercy. He is asking for mercy on technical grounds but there is no doubt that he was involved in the terror attacks” says Advocate of Accenture Services, Priyanka Ganguly.
“I sleep better at night knowing that they’re hung than the risk of them having escaped. Especially after India being the victim of so many terror attacks, it is just better to eradicate people like Yakub Memon” she added.
It is debatable if the death sentence is for the better or worse. Death sentences are more cost effective for the exchequer, for in the end, we are paying for their meals and maintenance. However, death sentence takes away any scope of reform and is by and large human rights violation is also true.
So what’s your opinion? Is the SC verdict fair?