New Delhi: India has got a breather in the Abu Salem case. The Constitutional Court of Portugal has stayed the order of the country’s Supreme Court on violation of Salem’s extradition agreement by New Delhi that had slapped new charges invoking death penalty.
Salem, the prime accused along with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, and his girlfriend Monica Bedi were extradited to India on 11 November 2005, after a marathon legal process in Portugal lasting three years. The extradition came after the Indian government assured Portugal that he would not be given death penalty, a key requirement in extradition proceedings in Europe. India had also promised that Salem would not be incarcerated for more than 25 years.
India in its plea had mentioned the recent order of Supreme Court of India whereby it had stayed trial against Salem with regard to additional charges levelled against the underworld don.
Delhi and Mumbai Police, however, had slapped charges which invoke death penalty against him leaving the government and the CBI red-faced. Later police wanted to withdraw the charges but the courts did not approve, and that led to long-standing legal battle which ended in Supreme Court in September 2010 that rejected the underworld don’s plea.
Salem had filed a petition in the high court in Lisbon alleging violation of Rule of Speciality, after which a judgement was pronounced on 19 September 2011 saying there had been breach of the Indian undertaking given to the Portuguese authorities.
The CBI, through the Indian Mission in Lisbon, had countered the plea by claiming that the issue of ‘violation of Rule of Speciality’ has been examined at length by the Supreme Court of India on similar petitions filed by Salem in India.
The Supreme Court of India had in its order dated 10 September 2010 held that there has been no violation of Rule of Speciality after examining the issues pertaining to it with reference to and in comparison with extradition laws of the UK, the US and Portugal.
However, that had not enthused the Supreme Court of Portugal which had rejected a petition filed by the Indian Embassy and upheld the order of the lower court saying, “The decision of Court of Appeal, Lisbon vide which it had held that there was a breach of Rule of Speciality in the matter of extradition of Abu Salem.”
India had moved to the Constitutional Court of Lisbon and appealed again the order besides annexing the order of 17 February of Supreme Court of justices P Sathasivam and J Chelameswar whereby stay on trial for all fresh cases, which invoked a death penalty or jail for 25 years, was ordered.
Salem, the prime accused along with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, and his girlfriend Monica Bedi were extradited to India on 11 November 2005, after a marathon legal process in Portugal lasting three years.