The Supreme Court today referred the hearing of 1993 Mumbai serial blast convict Yakub Memon's petition against his death sentence to a larger bench of Chief Justice H L Datu, after the two-judge bench hearing it delivered a split verdict.
Memon's latest petition against his death sentence was heard by the SC bench of Justices AR Dave and Kurien Joseph, which expressed divergent opinion on the petition, with Dave dismissing the plea and Joseph disagreeing.
Justice Anil Dave said Memon's execution should not be stopped, because "if the king doesn't punish the guilty with red eyes then the entire sins will come on the king."
Justice Kurien Joseph, however, did not agree. He said there was a violation of procedure and "such technicality should not stand in the way to protect the life of a person."
Joseph, in fact, delivered a separate verdict saying Memon's curative petition hasn't been heard according to a proper judicial procedure.
The Chief Justice of India will form the larger bench tomorrow.
Memon has pleaded that the death warrant for his execution is illegal because it was issued when he had not exhausted every legal option and a decision on his curative petition was still pending.
If the Supreme Court ultimately dismisses Memon's petition, he will be hanged as originally scheduled on 30 July.
If the apex court allows the petition, Memon's hanging will be stayed. But he can still be executed later, depending on the outcome of the mercy petition pending with the Maharashtra governor.
Yakub Memon, 53, was found guilty by a trial court in 2007 of helping to plan the deadly terror attack that killed 257 people and left over 700 wounded in Mumbai (See: Mumbai blasts convict Yakub Memon to be hanged as SC rejects his plea).
His brother Tiger Memon, the main accused along with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, has been absconding since 1993.
Of the 11 sentenced to death, Yakub was the only convict not granted mercy.
A group of eminent citizens, including politicians, jurists and retired judges, have asked President Pranab Mukherjee to grant mercy to Yakub, arguing that "in comparison to Yakub Memon, the 10 co-accused persons planted the bombs and played a much more critical and direct role in the actual execution of the conspiracy."