File photo: 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon.
Whether 1993 Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon should be hanged has sharply divided two Supreme Court judges, who on Tuesday asked the Chief Justice of India to take a call.
Chief Justice HL Dattu has set up a larger bench, which has only one day to decide on Yakub. The 53-year-old chartered accountant is to be hanged at a jail in Nagpur on Thursday.
One of the judges, Justice Anil Dave, said Yakub's execution must not be stopped, quoting a Sanskrit shloka
to say: "If the king doesn't punish the guilty with red eyes then the entire sin will come on the king."
This was unacceptable to Justice Kurien Joseph, who said that there had been a clear violation of procedure and "such technicality should not stand in the way to protect the life of a person."
Yakub Memon has pleaded that the death warrant for his execution is illegal because it was issued before he had exhausted every legal option; his curative petition challenging the Supreme Court's ruling had not been heard then. It was rejected last week. His lawyers also said judges who ordered the death sentence should have been part of the bench that decided on the curative petition.
Justice Joseph agreed that the curative petition had not been dealt with correctly, and that the defect "needs to be cured otherwise there will be clear violation of Right to Life of the convict."
Yakub was found guilty in 2007 of helping plan the deadly terror attack in which 257 people were killed in Mumbai. His brother Tiger Memon, the main accused along with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, has been missing since 1993.
Of the 11 sentenced to death, Yakub was the only convict not granted mercy.
A group of eminent citizens, including politicians, jurists and retired judges, have asked President Pranab Mukherjee to grant mercy to Yakub, arguing that in comparison, "the other 10 planted the bombs and played a much more critical and direct role." The president rejected Yakub's mercy plea last year.