New Delhi: Former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi has appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee to reconsider the mercy petition of death row convict Yakub Memon as a “fitting tribute” to former President APJ Abdul Kalam whose “conscientious opposition” to capital punishment is widely known.
In his appeal to the President, Gandhi said Kalam had, as recently as earlier this month, expressed his opposition to the concept of capital punishment.
“He expressed this opinion to the Law Commission, which has been holding deliberations regarding the desirability and efficacy of the death penalty. It would, I suggest, be a fitting tribute to the humane legacy of President Kalam to grant Yakub Memon his life, for which course there are also other compelling reasons,” Gandhi wrote.
President Mukherjee had last year rejected Yakub’s mercy plea.
Underlining that he was writing this appeal as matter of urgent, general and public interest, the former Governor cited a case of 1997 when the then President Shankar Dayal Sharma reversed earlier decision and commuted death penalty of two boys from Andhra Pradesh on the appeal of Mahashweta Devi and other eminent citizens on the eve of their scheduled execution.
Gandhi said it established “the supreme constituent power of the President of India under Article 73 of the Constitution, to reverse his earlier decision, and heed voices of conscience to commute a death sentence.”
“Yakub Memon submitted to Indian jurisdiction, when he may quite easily have evaded justice. A respected officer of Indian intelligence has spoken of his cooperation with the law, thus rendering the death penalty completely inappropriate in this case. Former Supreme Court judges have openly said that his execution would be unjust,” he said.
Yakub is the sole death row convict in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case. 12 coordinated blasts had rocked Mumbai on March 12, 1993, leaving 257 dead and over 700 injured. .