The execution of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakub Memon might be delayed as he reportedly handed over a fresh plea for mercy to Nagpur central jail authorities on Tuesday, to be forwarded to the President.
The move comes a day after the Supreme Court rejected his curative petition. Memon, scheduled to be hanged on 30 July, would have been the first to be executed in the case of 1993 serial bombings in Mumbai.
The decision to file the second mercy plea, this time a personal one as the previous petition was filed by his brother Suleiman Memon, was taken by Yakub in consultation with his lawyers Anil Gedam and Shubal Farooquei as well as cousin Usman Memon on Tuesday evening after the apex court's verdict.
"He has moved the plea for mercy because the first one was filed by his brother. This is the first mercy petition filed by Yakub," the Hindustan Times quoted Gedam as saying.
Yakub's move has divided the legal fraternity and left many confused whether a second mercy petition holds any validity. While some senior lawyers felt that it was just delaying tactics to defer Yakub's execution as long as possible, some veteran advocates believed that the Dawood aide still stood a chance to get his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment.
In 2014, Suleiman had filed the mercy petition on behalf of Yakub before President Pranab Mukherjee, who had rejected it. It is possible that Mukherjee might reject it again, and if he does, the execution date will be delayed as the Supreme Court had ruled last year that a death row convict can be executed only 14 days after the rejection of his mercy plea.
"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," the SC had said in a verdict in January 2014.
"This will allow the prisoner to prepare himself mentally for execution and have a final meeting with his family members. It is for the jail superintendent to see that the family members of the convict receive the communication rejection of mercy petition in time," it had added.
However, another ruling of the top court may further extend his execution. According to the SC, a death row convict has the right to challenge the rejection of his second mercy plea as well. Not just that, he can file as many mercy pleas as he wants, the legal experts say.
"Not only can he file the first mercy plea, but also a second, third and a fourth one. All these desperate mercy pleas continue to be made right till the end," said senior advocate KTS Tulsi.
The Supreme Court had on 21 July rejected Yakub's curative petition, the last attempt at seeking relief from the top court after rejection of the review petition, which the SC had rejected in 2014.
The TADA court in Mumbai had in 2007 convicted Yakub of arranging finances for carrying out the 13 serial explosions across the city on 12 March, 1993, in which 257 people were killed and over 700 injured. He was then awarded the death sentence.
The Maharashtra government was preparing to hang Yakub on 30 July.