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Supreme Court reserves verdict on the plea challenging life sentence to gangster Abu Salem

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The Supreme Court has today reserved its order on the gangster Abu Salem’s plea claiming that, his jail term cannot as per the extradition treaty between India and Portugal, his jail terms cannot extend beyond 25 years.

Abu Salem was represented by Advocate Rishi Malhotra, who said to the court that Portugal Government was given an assurance by the Indian Government on neither awarding death penalty nor punishment beyond 25 years to Abu Salem, but, he has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted in Mumbai serial bomb blasts.

Justice M.M. Sundresh who was part of the Bench said that “the courts are not bound by the assurance given by the government”, He further said that the government may certainly practice its executive power.

The Advocate Malhotra told the court that Abu Salem was in Portugal till 2002 when he was arrested after a Red Corner Notice’, the extradition process began soon after a year and finally after two years in 2005, he was handed over to India.

The bench questioned the representative of Central Government Additional Solicitor General K.M. Nataraj “what would be the starting point of Abu Salem’s detention”.

He humbly replied, it started when “we took him into custody and for the part of assurance, we’ll consider it”.

The top court reserved its order on Salem’s plea after hearing the entire matter

The Supreme Court On April 21, raised strong objection against a statement  by the Union Home Secretary, about honouring assurance made to Portugal during Abu Salem’s extradition, saying the judiciary does not need “lecturing” from the Home Secretary in the matter.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla had apprised the court that the question of honoring its assurance will arise only when the period of 25 years is to expire.

In his reply to the Court in form of affidavit he said “The government of India gave an assurance vide letter dated December 17, 2002, to the government of Portugal. This assurance is an executive assurance given by one country to other in the exercise of their executive functions.

He further said “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 question of the Union of India honouring its assurance dated December 17, 2002, will arise only when the period of 25 years is to expire. This date is November 10, 2030,”

The affidavit  mentioned that prior to this date the argument about the non-compliance of assurance is premature and based on hypothetical situations.

The government of India will abide by the said assurance….subject to the rights which may be available at that stage.

The Court was informed that the appeals need to be decided in accordance with Section 19 of the TADA read with other provisions governing criminal procedure,” said the affidavit.

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