On gangster Abu Salem’s petition against his jail sentence exceeding 25 years, the Supreme Court today used stern words while rejecting the Union Home Ministry’s stance that the plea is premature. The Supreme Court also objected to the Centre asking it to decide on the case.
“Don’t lecture the judiciary. We do not take it kindly when you tell us to decide something which you have to decide,” Justice SK Kaul told the Home Ministry.
“The Home Secretary is nobody to tell us to decide the issue,” the judge said.
The Supreme Court also said the centre must be unequivocal in what they want to say. “We do not like sentences in the Home Ministry affidavit like ‘we will take a decision at an appropriate time’,” said the judges.
The Home Ministry, in its affidavit, had said “it is not the appropriate time” for the government to take a call on Abu Salem’s case and that the Supreme Court may decide.
Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh were hearing a petition by Abu Salem, a convict in the 1993 Bombay blast case, that India had guaranteed to Portugal courts that his jail sentence cannot exceed 25 years.
On Tuesday, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla told the Supreme Court that the government was bound by the assurance given by then deputy Prime Minister LK Advani to the Portugal government that any sentence handed out to Abu Salem will not exceed 25 years.
Mr Bhalla said the assurance would come into effect after the 25-year period ended on November 10, 2030.
“It is respectfully submitted that the Government of India is bound by the assurance dated December 17, 2002. The period of 25 years, which is mentioned in the assurance, will be abided by the Union of India at an appropriate time subject to the remedies which may be available,” the Home Secretary said.
Abu Salem’s claim that India is not complying with the assurance is “premature and based on hypothetical surmises” and can never be raised in present proceedings, Mr Bhalla told the court.
The judiciary, he asserted, is independent in deciding all cases according to the law “without in any way being bound by any position taken by the executive”.
The Supreme Court had said it is not satisfied with the affidavit filed by the CBI which said that the assurance given by India to Portugal is not binding on Indian courts. On February 2, the court had sought a response from the Centre on Abu Salem’s plea.
Abu Salem was extradited from Portugal on November 11, 2005, after a drawn out legal battle.
In 2017, Abu Salem was convicted and sentenced to a life term for his role in the 1993 serial blast case in Mumbai. He was found guilty of transporting weapons from Gujarat to Mumbai ahead of the blasts.
In an unprecedented attack on Mumbai on March 12, 1993, a series of bomb explosions took place in a span of two hours, leaving 257 dead and more than 700 people injured.