What if the Supreme Court bench consisted of the retired judges of the same court who had sought commutation of Yakub Memon’s death sentence to a lifer and not of those who rejected it summarily? This was the first question that had come to my mind after listening to the Supreme Court’s summary rejection of, perhaps, the last petition of Yakub Memon, a terror convict believed to be one of the masterminds of Mumbai Blasts 1993 that killed 257 people and maimed many others. No, the question was still not about his role in the blasts. His role was confirmed not merely by his own assertion but also by very senior Research and Analysis Wing officials who oversaw the process too.
It was about something much bigger- the judicial process of India itself. Last mercy petition on Yakub’s behalf was signed by many eminent citizens of India… many retired judges of Supreme Court and various High Courts among them. Just to name a few, they included the likes of 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). Retied judges of the Supreme Court of India like Markandey Katju went on to say Yakub Memon’s hanging would be a gross travesty of justice.
No, I do not want to go into the merits of the case. I am not an expert on criminal, civil or any other law. All I want to ask is what if three of these judges were on the bench that decided on Yakub’s final mercy petition tonight! Yes, you got it right. All, I, a citizen of India as clueless of law as Yakub Memon, want to know what would have happened to him had three of these, and not who actually ended up deciding on his petition were on the bench?
My desire to know that has nothing to do with whether or not he was part of a conspiracy as brutal and ghastly as Mumbai blasts. Forgive me; I do not want to whip up any emotions by making any reference to Yakub being a successful chartered accountant before the blast. I understand that he might have been, I repeat, he might have been a part of his brother Tiger Memon‘s spectacular conspiracy.
But what if despite ending in such a tricky, and potentially a life-harming situation, he would have decided to return. Cut your crap, my lords, he would not have come to Nepal for tourism in such a situation. Nepal, after all is a country embryonically affiliated to India. I would not risk my life for a night in Thamel, one of the most happening places in the world I have spent countess nights, Yakub wont be as well. Yakub did. Ask yourself, why he did so!
I am asking myself that even if he did agree to all this, what would have been the verdict today had the bench included the judge who signed the mercy petition, not the ones who delivered the actual verdict. Ask yourself, ask if a decision on a human life could be this random?
That too on the life of someone who has already spent more than 22 years in the confinement of a jail, many of these as a death row convict in solitary confinement on that?
Can our justice system be this random to hang someone? Okay, I will call them idiosyncrasies and not whims, of individual judges? It cannot be, and despite being afraid of saying this in the face of a contempt notice, it must not be.
Hang a Tiger Memon, my lordship, for his role is proven- not in the least because of the evidences provided by Yakub- but please do not extinguish a human life to satisfy mobs, that has once been wrongly identified as the collective conscience of the nation in Afzal Guru’s case.
Do not listen to we, the laymen my lordships. But try, at least, to form a bench of the retired justices of Supreme Court and High Courts to listen to their views on why they are opposing death to Yakub.
Tomorrow would be too late for that, my lordships. And if tomorrow comes that late, all laymen like me would be left with to say is that- howsoever guilty you were Yakub Memon, never forgive us, never forget us. Not that we would need to say that my lordships, there are many hell bent to exploit that anger and frustration. The decision is on you