Schizophrenia to B Raman's letter: 6 arguments Yakub Memon may make in his plea to SC

The Supreme Court on Monday will hear a plea from Yakub Memon, the sole convict facing the death penalty for his involvement in the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai which killed 257 people. Memon's execution is presently scheduled to be held on 30 July.

A bench of Justices AR Dave, Amitava Roy and Arun Mishra will be hearing the plea against the death sentence. Here's a quick roundup of the arguments that the former chartered accountant could present in front of the court:

The breaking of procedure to hang him 

In his petition, Memon has argued that there is undue haste being shown to carry out his execution even as he is to run out of legal options to prevent it.

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Memon alleged that "death warrant proceedings were carried out in Mumbai" while he is in jail in Nagpur, and therfore he was not represented by his lawyer.

The petition also said the death warrant was issued by the TADA court in Mumbai when his curative petition was already pending in the apex court, "thereby presumptuously pre-determining its negative outcome." A death warrant was therefore issued against him even before he could exhaust his last legal remedy - a curative petition.

Memon is likely to argue that the warrant for the execution needed to issued 14 days before it was to be carried out, and its date couldn't have be fixed before his curative petition was considered by the Supreme Court, reports the Times of India. Memon's curative petition was dismissed by the apex court on 21 July.

Memon could be holding out hope is because the apex court in a Uttar Pradesh murder case had earlier said that such warrants cannot be issued just because the death sentence has been confirmed, unless the convict has exhausted all legal options.

The anti-death penalty argument

The Death Penalty Litigation Clinic, associated with the National Law University in Delhi, is also going to be arguing against the execution.

Senior counsel T R Andhyarujina had appeared for the clinic, which has been filing petitions in apex court against the execution of death penalty in different cases.

Andhyarujina, if he appears today as well, is likely to argue that Memon wasn't given proper notice of the death warrant proceedings so that he could seek appropriate legal counsel.

The B Raman argument

The publication of a letter by former RAW official B Raman in which he argued against Memon's death penalty is also likely to be brought up before the apex court. Raman in a piece written for Rediff in 2007, had argued that Memon deserved leniency in sentencing on account of the assistance he provided to investigating agencies and bringing his family back from Pakistan.

The Indian Express reports that former Supreme Court judge HS Bedi has argued that the piece should be considered suo motu by the apex court. Bedi has asked that the Supreme Court bench consider reconsider the execution by either sending it back to the trial court or using its own powers under the Constitution of India.

However, as we've pointed out earlier, the apex court had already considered the argument that Memon's role in aiding the investigating agencies but had refused to commute the death sentence on account of it.

The schizophrenia argument

Memon, in his plea, has claimed he has been suffering from schizophrenia since 1996 and remained behind the bars for nearly 20 years. While seeking the commutation of the death penalty earlier, he had argued that a convict cannot be awarded life term and the extreme penalty simultaneously for the same offence.

Memon will be hoping to get a commuting of sentence much like Devinder Singh Bhullar, who was to be hanged, but his execution was put off on the grounds that there had been inordinate time taken in considering his mercy pleas and the fact that he was suffering from schizophrenia.

“Mental illness, schizophrenia and insanity are grounds for commuting the death penalty in Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar’s case,” the then Chief Justice P Sathasivam had said in March 2014.

The plea before the President

A group of prominent citizens has written to the President seeking a commutation of his sentence and Memon is likely to cite it as a reason to stall his execution.  Eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani and leaders from four political parties were among around 300 people who on Sunday urged President Pranab Mukherjee to reconsider Memon's mercy plea.

Those who endorsed the petition included BJP's Shatrughan Sinha, Congress' Mani Shankar Aiyer, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI's D. Raja, actor Naseeruddin Shah, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, activist Tushar Gandhi, lawyer Vrinda Grover and economist Jean Dreze.

The 15-page petition submitted to the President claimed there are "substantive and fresh grounds" that can be considered on merits to give reprieve to Memon's.

The President had earlier dismissed Memon's plea for mercy that had been filed by his brother Suleiman.

The plea before the governor

In his petition, Memon has argued that he has already approached the Maharastra Governor with a plea for mercy. Memon had filed the mercy plea immediately after the Supreme Court dismissed his curative petition.

There has  been no decision from the Maharashtra Governor on the plea so far as it considers the 2000-page document submitted by Memon.

While there has been an impressive groundswell of support for clemency over the past week, and spanning all political quarters, it remains to be seen if any of it will force the Supreme Court to reconsider its judgement.

Updated Date: Jul 27, 2015 15:38 PM

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