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Saturday, August 1, 2015

The petitioner was tried for which is known as “Bombay Blast Case’ and stood convicted in the year 2007. Almost 22 years have passed since 1993 when the incident occurred. We have not perceived any error in the issue of the death warrant as per our order dated 29.07.2015 passed in W.P. (Crl) No.129 of 2015. The only exception which has been enthusiastically carved out by Mr. Grover, learned Senior Counsel and Mr. Chaudhry, learned counsel is that they are entitled to get 14 days’ time to assail the rejection of the mercy petition. When the first mercy petition was rejected on 11.04.2014, there was sufficient time available to the petitioner to make arrangement for his family members to meet him in prison and make necessary worldly arrangements. There was adequate time to prepare himself to meet his Maker and to make peace with himself. We have been apprised by Mr. Rohatgi, learned Attorney General for India that the family was allowed to meet the petitioner whenever they desired as per the Jail Manual. 13. The residuary part of the submissions put forth by the learned counsel for the petitioner is that the petitioner can still challenge the rejection of his mercy petition. On a first glance, the aforesaid submission may look quite attractive, but in the present case the same does not have much commendation because the rejection of the first mercy petition by the President of India could have been assailed before this Court, but it was not done. We have been apprised that the copy of the order of rejection of the mercy petition has been sent to the petitioner, but the fact remains that after the rejection of the first mercy petition, despite sufficient time, the petitioner chose not to challenge the same. We do not think that it is a case of such nature where it can be said that legal remedy was denied to the petitioner. True it is, the first mercy petition was submitted by the brother of the petitioner, but as the facts would clearly show, he was aware of the same. Learned Attorney General would contend that the petitioner, in fact, had written a letter to the concerned Superintendent of Jail pertaining to the same. Regard being had to the totality of facts and circumstances of this case, we are not inclined to accept the submission that the present mercy petition was preferred by the petitioner for the first time and, therefore, 14 days’ time should be granted so that he can do the needful as per law. In our considered opinion, to grant him further time to challenge the rejection of the second mercy petition for which we have to stay the execution of the death warrant dated 30.04.2015 would be nothing but travesty of justice. 14. Resultantly, we do not perceive any merit in this writ petition and the same is, accordingly, dismissed.

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                       CRIMINAL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

                     WRIT PETITION (CRL.) NO.135 OF 2015


Yakub Abdul Razak Memon                            ...Petitioner

                                   Versus

State of Maharashtra and Anr.                         ...Respondents





                               J U D G M E N T


Dipak Misra, J.


      The issue that had seen the end after the day’s  drill  at  4.15  p.m.
yesterday, i.e., 29.07.2015, appears  to  have  unending  character  because
precisely after ten hours, about 3.15 a.m. on 30.07.2015, it has risen  like
a phoenix possibly harbouring the idea that it has the potentiality to  urge
for a second lease of life as put forth by Mr. Anand Grover, learned  Senior
Counsel  and  Mr.  Yug  Chaudhry,  learned  counsel,   appearing   for   the
petitioner,  stating  that  the  assail  has  become  inevitable  after  the
President of India in  exercise  of  his  power  under  Article  72  of  the
Constitution has rejected the mercy petition preferred  by  the  petitioner.
Be it stated, it is contended by the  learned  counsel  for  the  petitioner
that by virtue of the rejection of the mercy  petition,  the  death  warrant
issued on 30.4.2015 would be executed today, without waiting  for  14  days,
and hence, there should be a grant of stay.
2.    We may mention that, before the ink in the earlier judgment has  dried
up, the present writ petition has been filed  by  the  petitioner  assailing
the legal justifiability of the execution warrant  dated  30.04.2015  issued
by the Presiding officer, Designated TADA Court, Mumbai,  for  execution  of
the petitioner at 7.00 a.m. on 30.07.2015 and further to direct the stay  of
the petitioner’s execution till the instant writ petition is disposed of.
3.    We do not have to adumbrate the facts in entirety as the facts of  the
instant case have been elaborately stated in W.P. (Crl.)  No.  129  of  2015
which has been dismissed on 29.07.2015.  In the earlier writ  petition,  the
prayer, in quintessentiality, was made for setting aside the  death  warrant
issued by the Designated TADA Court, Mumbai.  The grounds were many  but  we
must state with certitude that they  did  not  find  favour  with  us.   Mr.
Grover, learned Senior Counsel would submit that it might  appear  that  the
prayers in the present petition are the same and anyone may foster the  idea
that an effort has been made in a  contrived  manner  to  procrastinate  the
date of execution of the convict, but  it  is  not  so.   He  would  further
submit that by the occurrence of subsequent events  that  took  place  after
the pronouncement of the judgment, fresh grounds have  emerged  which  could
not have been conceived of at the time when the matter was  argued.   It  is
urged that though the prayer is  the  same,  yet  the  grounds  are  totally
different.
4.    At this juncture, the subsequent  event  which  has  been  accentuated
upon by Mr.  Grover,  learned  Senior  Counsel  and  Mr.  Chaudhry,  learned
counsel, needs to be noted.  After we dismissed the  earlier  writ  petition
being W.P.(Crl) No. 129 of 2015, the President of India rejected  the  mercy
petition of the petitioner.   The fulcrum of the submission  of  Mr.  Grover
is that the petitioner is entitled in law to challenge the same albeit on  a
limited  ground and,  therefore,  a  three-Judge  Bench  of  this  Court  in
Shatrughan Chauhan & Anr. V. Union of India & ors.[1] has, upon  perusal  of
various jail manuals which exhibited discrepancies, intended to  rationalise
by laying down a minimum  period  so  that  the  convict  can  make  certain
arrangements.  To put it succinctly, when  a  mercy  petition  is  rejected,
there has to be a minimum period of 14  days  between  its  rejection  being
communicated to the petitioner and his family  and  the  scheduled  date  of
execution.  That apart, minimum period of 14 days is stipulated between  the
communication of the death warrant to the petitioner and the scheduled  date
of execution.
5.    Mr. Grover, learned  senior  Counsel  appearing  for  the  petitioner,
would contend that both the conditions are  to  be  satisfied  as  they  are
cumulative in nature.  There can be no cavil over the same.  First,  to  the
second condition.  The death warrant was  issued  on  30.04.2015  which  was
admittedly received by the petitioner on 13.07.2015  and  the  date  of  its
execution is 30.07.2015, i.e., today.  Thus, one of the facets is met  with.
 As far as the first aspect is concerned, in the earlier judgment passed  in
W.P.(Crl) No. 129/2015, this Court has held thus:-
“After the judgment was pronounced on 21.03.2013, an application for  review
was filed, which was dismissed by  circulation  on  30.07.2013.   After  the
rejection of the  application  for  review,  Suleman,  the  brother  of  the
petitioner,  represented  under  Article  72  of  the  Constitution  to  the
President of India on 06.08.2013, claiming benefits under Article  72(1)  of
the  Constitution.    The   petitioner   on   07.08.2013,   wrote   to   the
Superintendent,  Central  Jail,  Nagpur,  informing  him  about  receipt  of
petition by the office of  the  President  of  India.   On  02.09.2013,  the
Government of India forwarded the mercy petition of  the  convict  addressed
to the President of India, to  the  Principal  Secretary,  Home  Department,
Mahrashtra, as per the procedure.   The  Governor  of  Maharashtra  rejected
representation  on  14.11.2013  and  on  30.09.2013,  the  State  Government
informed the Central Government about rejection of  the  mercy  petition  by
the governor of Maharashtra.  On receipt of the said communication from  the
State Government on 10.03.2014,  the  summary  of  the  case/mercy  petition
prepared by the Ministry of  Home  Affairs  under  the  signatures  of  Home
Minister  was  forwarded  to  the  Petitioner.   The  said   rejection   was
communicated  to  the  stipulation  that  the  convict  be   informed   and,
accordingly, on 26.05.2014, the petitioner was informed about the  rejection
of mercy petition by the President of India.”

We  have  reproduced  the  whole  paragraph  as  they  state  the  facts  in
completeness.  Before we proceed with regard to the necessity for  grant  of
14 days’ time after receipt of communication of the rejection of  the  mercy
petition, it is appropriate to refer to paragraph 241.7  of  the  Shatrughan
Chauhan’s case (supra) which reads as follows:-
“241.7.  Some Prison Manuals do not provide for any minimum  period  between
the rejection of the mercy petition being communicated to the  prisoner  and
his family and the scheduled date of execution.  Some Prison Manulas have  a
minimum period of 1 day, others have a minimum period of  14  days.   It  is
necessary that a minimum  period  of  14  days  be  stipulated  between  the
receipt of communication of the rejection of  the  mercy  petition  and  the
scheduled date of execution for the following reasons:
(a)   It allows the prisoner to prepare himself mentally for  execution,  to
make his peace with God, prepare his will and settle other earthly  affairs.

(b)   It allows the prisoner to have a  last  and  final  meeting  with  his
family members. It  also  allows  the  prisoners’  family  members  to  make
arrangements to travel to the prison which  may  be  located  at  a  distant
place and meet the prisoner for the last time.   Without  sufficient  notice
of the scheduled date  of  execution,  the  prisoners’  right  to  avail  of
judicial remedies will be thwarted and they will be prevented from having  a
last and final meeting with their families.”

It is urged by Mr. Grover, learned Senior Counsel and Mr. Chaudhry,  learned
counsel that the first mercy petition was submitted by Suleman,  brother  of
the petitioner, on 06.08.2013 which stood  rejected  on  11.04.2014  by  the
President  of  India  and  that  was  communicated  to  the  petitioner   on
26.05.2014, but the petitioner had not submitted any mercy petition.
6.    There is no  dispute  over  the  fact  that  the  petitioner  had  not
submitted any representation invoking the  authority  of  the  President  of
India under Article 72 of the Constitution of India.  However, it is not  in
dispute that his brother had submitted.  It is also beyond dispute that  the
petitioner does not disown the submission of the petition by his brother  on
his behalf.  In fact, he had communicated  to  the  Superintendent,  Central
Jail, Nagpur, on 07.08.2013, informing him about receipt of the petition  by
the office of the President of India so as to pursue  the  same.   The  said
mercy petition as has been indicated earlier stood rejected  on  11.04.2014.
The petitioner did not think it appropriate to challenge  the  rejection  of
the mercy petition by the President of India.  He accepted his fate.
7.    Be it stated here, the mercy petition was preferred on  6.08.2013  and
prior  to  that,  the  review  petition  was  dismissed  by  circulation  on
30.07.2013 by the two-Judge Bench  of  this  Court  which  had  decided  the
appeal on 21.03.2013.  As is evident, the  constitutional  validity  of  the
rule relating to review was called  in  question  before  this  Court.   The
Constitution Bench in Mohd. Arif alias Ashfaq v.  Registrar,  Supreme  Court
of India and Ors.[2] dealing with the said rule opined that in death  cases,
the matter should be heard by a three-Judge Bench and  the  review  petition
should be heard in the open  court  by  giving  maximum  time  limit  of  30
minutes to the convict.
8.    Since the petitioner  had  not  filed  a  curative  petition,  he  was
entitled to seek reopening of  the  review  petition,  as  per  the  liberty
granted to certain categories of cases in Mohd. Arif Alias  Ashfaq  (supra).
Accordingly, his review petition was heard by a  three-Judge  Bench  in  the
open Court.  After rejection of the said review petition on  09.04.2015,  he
filed a  curative  petition  on  22.05.2015  which  also  got  dismissed  on
21.07.2015.  At this stage, it is  imperative  to  state  that  despite  the
Constitution  Bench  saying  that  there  shall  be  oral  hearing  of   the
application for review for a  maximum  period  of  30  minutes,  the  review
petition was heard for almost ten days.  The purpose of mentioning the  same
is that ample opportunity was afforded to the petitioner.
9.     After rejection of the  curative  petition  on  the  21.07.2015,  the
petitioner submitted a mercy petition to  the  Governor,  Maharashtra  which
was received on 22.07.2015.  He also submitted  another  mercy  petition  to
the President of India which was received by the President of India at  2.00
p.m. on 29.07.2015.  Both these mercy petitions have been rejected.
10.   It is submitted by Mr. Grover, learned Senior  Counsel,  that  as  per
the principle stated  in  Shatrughan  Chauhan  (supra),  the  petitioner  is
entitled to claim commutation of death sentence to life imprisonment on  the
basis of supervening circumstances.  For the said purpose, he  has  referred
to paragraphs 28 and 29 of the decision in Shatrughan Chauhan (supra)  which
read as under:-
“28.  The petitioners herein have  asserted  the  following  events  as  the
supervening circumstances, for  communication  of  death  sentence  to  life
imprisonment:
Delay
Insanity
Solitary confinement
Judgments declared per incuriam
Procedural laspses

29.   All the petitioners have  more  or  less  asserted  on  the  aforesaid
grounds which, in their opinion, the executive had failed to  take  note  of
while rejecting the mercy petitions filed by  them.   Let  us  discuss  them
distinctively and come to a conclusion whether  each  of  the  circumstances
exclusively or together warrants the communication of  death  sentence  into
life imprisonment.”

What is submitted today is that the petitioner can challenge  the  rejection
of the mercy petition only when it is  formally  served  on  him,   for  the
counsel for the petitioner have only come  to  know  from  the  news  report
about the rejection of the mercy petition by the President of India.   Thus,
14 days’ time has not been granted and he has been deprived of the right  to
assail the same.  As has been  stated  earlier,  the  said  stand  has  been
sought to be highlighted on the basis of the  reasons  stated  in  paragraph
241.7 of the case  of  Shatrughan  Chauhan  (supra).   Pyramiding  the  said
submission, it is propounded by Mr. Grover, learned Senior Counsel  and  Mr.
Chaudhry, learned counsel that in the absence of  any  time  to  assail  the
rejection of the mercy petition, the execution of death warrant deserves  to
be stayed.
11.   The question that emerges for consideration is whether on  the  ground
of not granting of 14 days’ time from the date of receipt  of  communication
of rejection of the mercy petition, should the warrant which is going to  be
executed at 7.00 a.m. on 30.07.2015 be stayed.  Mr. Mukul  Rohatgi,  learned
Attorney General for India, appearing for the respondent, would submit  that
the mercy petition is considered by the President of India  in  exercise  of
his power under Article 72 of the Constitution of  India  and  when  he  has
rejected the mercy petition after due  consideration  of  all  the  relevant
facts on earlier occasion, if such kind of repetitive  mercy  petitions  are
allowed to be submitted and further challenge to the rejection of  the  same
is permitted, the danger of the concept of ad  infinitum  would  enter  into
the field.  Mr. Rohatgi would further contend that at the  drop  of  a  hat,
everybody can add a new fact or a new development and expect  the  President
of  India  to  deal  with  it  as  contemplated  under  Article  72  of  the
Constitution of India and, thereafter, challenge the  same  in  a  court  of
law.
12.   The instant petition is a clear expose  of  the  manipulation  of  the
principle of rule of law.  The petitioner was tried for which  is  known  as
“Bombay Blast Case’ and stood convicted in the year 2007.  Almost  22  years
have passed since 1993 when the incident occurred.  We  have  not  perceived
any error in the  issue  of  the  death  warrant  as  per  our  order  dated
29.07.2015 passed in W.P. (Crl) No.129 of 2015.  The  only  exception  which
has been enthusiastically carved out by Mr. Grover, learned  Senior  Counsel
and Mr. Chaudhry, learned counsel is that they are entitled to get 14  days’
time to assail the rejection of the mercy petition.  When  the  first  mercy
petition was rejected on 11.04.2014, there was sufficient time available  to
the petitioner to make arrangement for his family members  to  meet  him  in
prison and make necessary worldly arrangements.  There was adequate time  to
prepare himself to meet his Maker and to make peace with himself.   We  have
been apprised by Mr. Rohatgi, learned Attorney General for  India  that  the
family was allowed to meet the petitioner whenever they desired as  per  the
Jail Manual.
13.   The residuary part  of  the  submissions  put  forth  by  the  learned
counsel for the petitioner is that the petitioner can  still  challenge  the
rejection  of  his  mercy  petition.   On  a  first  glance,  the  aforesaid
submission may look quite attractive, but in the present case the same  does
not have  much  commendation  because  the  rejection  of  the  first  mercy
petition by the President of India could  have  been  assailed  before  this
Court, but it was not done.  We have been apprised  that  the  copy  of  the
order of rejection of the mercy petition has been sent  to  the  petitioner,
but the fact remains that after the rejection of the first  mercy  petition,
despite sufficient time, the petitioner chose not  to  challenge  the  same.
We do not think that it is a case of such nature where it can be  said  that
legal remedy was denied to the petitioner.  True  it  is,  the  first  mercy
petition was submitted by the brother of the petitioner, but  as  the  facts
would clearly show, he was aware of  the  same.   Learned  Attorney  General
would contend that the petitioner, in fact, had  written  a  letter  to  the
concerned Superintendent of Jail pertaining to the same.  Regard  being  had
to the totality of  facts  and  circumstances  of  this  case,  we  are  not
inclined to accept the submission  that   the  present  mercy  petition  was
preferred by the petitioner for the first  time  and,  therefore,  14  days’
time should be granted so that he can do the needful as  per  law.   In  our
considered opinion, to grant him further time to challenge the rejection  of
the second mercy petition for which we have to stay  the  execution  of  the
death warrant dated 30.04.2015 would be nothing but   travesty  of  justice.

14.   Resultantly, we do not perceive any merit in this  writ  petition  and
the same is, accordingly, dismissed.

                                                    ......................J.
                                                               [Dipak Misra]


                                                   .......................J.
                                                          [Prafulla C. Pant]


                                                     .....................J.
                                                               [Amitava Roy]
New Delhi
July 30, 2015









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[1]    (2014) 3 SCC 1
[2]    (2014) 9 SCC 737

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