SC no to Mumbai blast convicts' relief plea

SC no to Mumbai blast convicts' relief plea

SC no to Mumbai blast convicts' relief plea

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined a plea for suspension of sentence of three convicts, including Zaibunissa Anwar Kazi, of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts till the time President decided their mercy petitions.

Terming their request “impractical,” a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said if the plea was allowed, the office of President would be flooded with applications of convicts “who do not want to serve their jail term.”

Kazi (70), Issaq Mohd Hajwane (76) and Shariff Abdul Gafoor Parker (88) urged the apex court to grant them time to surrender. The apex court had upheld five-year jail term for Kazi and life term for Parker awarded by the TADA court. The apex court, however, enhanced five-year jail of Hajwane to life term.

Appearing for the three, senior advocate Fali S Nariman urged the court to grant “a little breathing” space to the President for deciding their petitions.

He submitted the fundamental right of life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution could not end with the pronouncement of the final verdict. “The court can act in aid of Article 72 (President’s power to pardon) by granting some time,” he submitted.

“If we accept this analogy, then each convict can file a petition and his sentence would be suspended and he would stay out of jail. This will create a lot of problems. President's office will be flooded with such petitions,” the bench said.
Nariman insisted and read out Article 21 stating that no person shall be deprived of his liberty.

The court, however, was not convinced, saying, “this would create practical problems.”
The bench, also comprising Justices A R Dave and Vikramjit Sen, pointed out the question of jurisdiction as well.

“We think power to grant all kinds of reprieve is also contained under Article 72. We don't think this matter requires our interference. You could raise your contentions regarding health and old age after you surrender,” the bench said.

The court’s order is likely to affect the case of actor Sanjay Dutt, who sought six months time to surrender in order to help him complete his film projects.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing Dutt, submitted before another bench of Justices P Sathasivam and M Y Eqbal that his plea was for mercy and that it had nothing to do with Article 21, in an apparent reference to the argument made by Nariman with regard to other three convicts.

The court posted Dutt’s plea for hearing on Wednesday so that Justice B S Chauhan, who passed the verdict, could join Justice Sathasivam on the bench.

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