Memon Plea Rejected, Court Urged to Uphold Rule of 14-day Wait Before Hanging

New Delhi: With President Pranab Mukherjee rejecting the mercy petition filed by Yakub Memon – given the death penalty  for his role in the 1993 terrorist bombings in Bombay – lawyers representing him are moving the Supreme Court to insist his execution, set for July 30, must be delayed by 14 days as required by Supreme Court guidelines or at least 7 days, as mandated by the Maharashtra jail manual.

After lawyers met with Chief Justice H.L. Dattu after midnight, a special hearing of the same three-judge bench which rejected Memon’s curative petition hearing on Wednesday morning – Justices J. Dipak Misra, J.A Roy and J.P. Pant – has been set for 2:30 am. Unusually, the hearing will be held at the Supreme Court itself rather than at the home of one of the judges.

As recently as January 14, 2014, the Supreme Court in the Shatrughan Chauhan case framed a number of  “guidelines for safeguarding the interests of death row convicts”. Among the guidelines is the stipulation that a convict cannot be executed until at least 14 days have elapsed from the time he is informed about the fact this mercy petition has been rejected:

7. Minimum 14 days notice for execution: 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 manuals 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 the obligation of the Superintendent of Jail to see that the family members of the convict receive the message of communication of rejection of mercy petition in time.

This guideline framed by the Supreme Court a little over a year ago, lawyers believe, means it will be illegal to hang Yakub Memon as scheduled on July 30.