Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi today made a veiled reference to the unprecedented 2 AM hearing in the Yakub Memon case two years ago, as he asserted that India champions upholding of human rights as enshrined in its Constitution. He was speaking at the 27th session of the Universal Periodic Review Working Group at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) here, where India’s human rights records was reviewed.
“I have also come across concerns raised regarding Indian judiciary’s ability for redressal of rights violations due to barriers to access to justice. The right to fair trial and free legal aid up to the highest court are enshrined as fundamental rights in the Constitution of India and thus guaranteed to all individuals,” he said.
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“So much so that as the Attorney General of India, I was summoned by the Supreme Court at 2 in the morning to hear a last-ditch petition, after several rounds of litigation, by a convict who was guilty of terrorism to escape punishment. This shows the importance attached to upholding of human rights by India,” he said, referring to the Memon case.
Memon, the lone 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict whose death sentence was upheld by the apex court, was hanged on July 30, 2015 capping dramatic last-ditch legal manoeuvres by his lawyers to stall his execution.
“Justice has prevailed for the families of those who lost their lives in the 1993 Mumbai blasts,” Rohatgi had said hours after the apex court ruling.
Memon’s conviction became unprecedented in many ways, as courts were opened in the wee hours and media persons reported round-the-clock about the case till the morning.
In his address at the UNHCR, Rohatgi said India, however, remains conscious that the large backlog of cases often results in delays in their closure.
The Law Commission’s recommendations on institutional changes to facilitate timely justice are being considered by the government and the Supreme Court of India, he said.
“The government is also coordinating with the judiciary to explore other avenues. The National Mission for Justice Delivery and Legal Reforms has been launched with the specific aim of reducing delays and arrears in the judicial system,” he added.