The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Government of India to consider the plea of underworld don Abu Salem that the conditions under which he was extradited from Portugal was violated by his being sentenced to life imprisonment by a 2017 TADA court order.
Salem had been extradited from Portugal on the conditions that he won’t be imprisoned for more than 25 years and won’t be given the death penalty.
The bench of Justice S.K. Kaul and Justice M.M. Sundresh was hearing the 1993 Bombay blasts case convict’s plea against the TADA court verdict which he claimed violated the 25 year deal. The bench posted the next hearing in the case on March 8 and asked the Centre and the CBI to file their responses within 4 weeks.
The bench in its order said, “The sovereign assurance given by them (Central agencies) to the courts in Portugal while seeking extradition of the appellant. In annexure, it’s his submission that, his imprisonment cannot exceed 25 years as per the assurance given. Even though TADA court says it is not bound by such assurances, as the judicial system works independent of executive, TADA court doesn’t have the power, this court can pass orders. The prosecution agencies may discuss among themselves to file an appropriate affidavit before us.”
Salem has also challenged the set off time. According to him, he was detained in 2002 by Portuguese authorities and that date should count as the start of his term and not when he was taken into Indian custody in 2005.
The Apex Court noted that Salem’s counsel had submitted that his client may come to a settlement if the Centre takes a reasonable stand on the violation of guarantees made to Portugal and the set-off period.
The bench agreed that Salem’s counsel has made fair submissions and asked the Central agencies to discuss and take a stand on the topics raised by Salem.
Salem is serving a life sentence for his involvement in the Bombay serial blasts of 1993. He has also been sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment in a 2002 extortion case by a Delhi court.
In 2021, the Supreme Court had refused to entertain Salem’s petition that the extradition was illegal and liable to be cancelled because of breach of terms by Indian authorities. The then Chief Justice, S.A. Bobde, had asked Salem to approach the Bombay High Court.
The appeal had been filed before the Supreme Court against the final judgment of February 25, 2015 passed by the Designated Court, Greater Bombay in TADA Special Case No 1/2006.
Salem also sought a stay on trial of cases filed against him on the ground in view of the order dated September 14, 2011 passed by the court of Appeals of Lisbon, Portugal terminating the extradition order on the ground that trial was conducted in violation of the terms of extradition. Salem had challenged the Session Court order that convicted him for the murder of Mumbai builder Pradeep Jain, who was shot dead by assailants outside his Juhu bungalow in March 1995.