A united team of eminent jurists, Members of Parliament, many leaders of different political parties, members of the legal fraternity, activists, filmmakers and actors have endorsed and submitted a petition to President Pranab Mukherjee, requesting him to consider the mercy plea against the execution of the death sentence of Yakub Memon.
A few among the eminent individuals from different walks of life who endorsed the petition are: Justice Panachand Jain (Retd.), Justice H.S. Bedi (Retd.), Justice P. B. Sawant (Retd.), Justice H. Suresh (Retd.), Justice K. P. Siva Subramaniam (Retd.), Justice S. N. Bhargava (Retd.), Justice K Chandru (Retd.), Justice Nagmohan Das (Retd.) and Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Shatrughan Sinha, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Majeed Memon, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja have also endorsed the mercy petition.
Other endorsees include K.T.S Tulsi, H.K. Dua, T. Siva, CPI (M) member Prakash Karat, Dipankar Bhattacharya, Brinda Karat, various academicians, members of the legal fraternity, activists and filmmakers and also actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Mahesh Bhatt and Tushar Gandhi.
In the letter, they have pointed out in their letter to President Mukherjee that under Article 72 of the Constitution, he has the power to grant pardon and to suspend, remit or commute sentence in certain cases.
“It is in this way the constitution of India permits right of appeal. Sub-clause of Article 6 of Part-III of the Covenant as referred above provides that commutation of sentence of death may be granted in all cases. In the circumstance, we will have to understand as to why “may” has been used for commutation of the sentence of death to be granted by the President. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Deewan Singh Vs. Rajendra Prasad Ardevi (2007) 10 SC 528 while interpretating “may” where powers is conferred upon a public authority coupled with direction, the word “may” which connotes direction should be constitute to mean a command,” read the excerpts of the letter.
“In India this power of pardon is to be exercised by the President and therefore under no circumstances for empowering the President the word “shall” could have been used in the covenant but it means a command i.e. commutation of sentence of death must be granted in all cases by President, till such time Parliament of India decides that it will continue the penalty of death sentence. After signing of covenant, the Parliament of India has not considered any amendment in the Indian Penal Code for abolition of death sentence,” it added.
Yakub Memon has been sentenced to death for his role in the 1993 Mumbai blasts.
The Supreme Court had earlier this week rejected his last-minute appeal and upheld his hanging for July 30.