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Yakub Memon case: Here’s what the common Indian has to say about SC verdict

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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.

Picture credit: indianexpress.com
Picture credit: indianexpress.com

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.

Picture credit: sify.com
Picture credit: sify.com

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.

Picture credit: enterpriseisrael.org
Picture credit: enterpriseisrael.org

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?

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India Gets A Win, Supreme Court Decriminalizes Homosexuality

In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.

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Homosexuality, India
SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

 In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalised homosexuality between consenting adults by declaring Section 377, the penal provision which criminalised gay sex, as “manifestly arbitrary”.

In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra partially struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional.

The bench said it is no longer an offence for LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer/questioning) community to engage in consensual sex between two adults in private.

Reading out the judgment, Chief Justice Misra said attitudes and mentality have to change to accept others’ identity and accept what they are, and not what they should be.

Homosexuality, India
LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow.
Pixabay

“It is the constitutional and not social morality which will prevail,” said the court.

The verdict sparked celebrations in the LGBTIQ community across India even as the judgment was being read out. Many of the community members who had assembled outside the apex court jumped in joy and distributed sweets.

Chief Justice Misra said consensual sex between adults in a private space, which is not harmful to women or children, cannot be denied as it is a matter of individual choice.

Section 377 will not apply to consensual same-sex acts between homosexuals, heterosexuals, lesbians, the court said, clarifying that sexual act without consent and bestiality will continue to be an offence under section 377.

“An individual has full liberty over his or her body and his or her sexual orientation is a matter of one’s choice,” said the Chief Justice.

“Time to bid adieu to prejudicial perceptions deeply ingrained in social mindset. Time to empower LGBTIQ community against discrimination. They should be allowed to make their choices,” he added.

Homosexuality, India
In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional. Pixabay

 

In a concurring judgement, Justice Nariman said homosexuality is “not a mental disorder or disease”.

He said the LGBTIQ community has an equal right to live with dignity and are entitled to equal protection of law. He directed the Centre to give wide publicity to this judgment to remove the stigma attached to homosexuality.

Justice Chandrachud said to deny the LGBTIQ community their right to sexual orientation is a denial of their citizenship and a violation of their privacy.

“They cannot be pushed into obscurity by an oppressive colonial legislation… Sexual minorities in India have lived in fear, hiding as second class citizens,” said Justice Chandrachud, adding “the state has no business to intrude on such matters”.

Justice Indu Malhotra said that history owes an apology to the LGBTIQ community for all that they have suffered on account of the ignorance of the majority about homosexuality.

“LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow,” she said.

Homosexuality, India
People Participated in Hundreds for the Gay Pride Parade Held In Delhi.

The Supreme Court verdict, which overruled its own earlier judgment, assumes significance as in the earlier round of litigation in 2013, the top court had reversed a Delhi High Court ruling decriminalising homosexuality.

The Delhi High Court bench, headed by then Chief Justice A.P. Shah, had in July 2009 legalised homosexual acts between consenting adults by overturning the 149-year-old law — finding it unconstitutional and a hurdle in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya in the Suresh Kumar Koushal and another vs Naz Foundation and others case, had set aside the high court’s judgment and said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.

The matter was subsequently resurrected in July 2016, when a fresh petition was filed by members of the LGBTIQ community — dancer N.S. Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath and business executive Ayesha Kapur — which was then marked to the Constitution Bench by a Division Bench.

Homosexuality, India
Gaydo, India’s first LGBTQ Radio Show

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The reference was made on the basis of submission that it was the first time that individuals directly affected by the provision were approaching the court.

Among the petitioners are a batch of current and former students of Indian Institutes of Technology. Claiming to represent more than 350 LGBTIQ alumni, students, staff and faculty from the IITs, the petitioners said that the existence of Section 377 had caused them “mental trauma and illnesses, such as clinical depression and anxiety and relegated some of them to second-class citizenship”. (IANS)