New Delhi/Mumbai: The Supreme Court on Monday deftly stepped around a possible conflict with the Portuguese Supreme Court by allowing CBI to drop six charges under anti-terror law TADA, Explosives Act and Arms Act against Mumbai serial blasts accused Abu Salem while maintaining that his extradition to India remained unaffected by the adverse rulings of Portuguese courts.
“It is vividly clear that the order of extradition (against Salem) dated March 28, 2003, still stands valid and effective in the eyes of law,” a bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and J Chelameswar said. It also vacated the February 17, 2012, stay on trial against Salem in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.
Saba Qureishi, Salem’s lawyer, said, “We will approach the European Court soon.”
The SC bench was of the view that though the top Portuguese courts found India had breached the assurances it had given while seeking Salem’s extradition, Union of India was not directed to return the gangster who was arrested in Lisbon while travelling with a Pakistani passport on an assumed name.
Justice Sathasivam said, “This delivery of individuals to a requesting sovereign is usually based on treaties or bilateral agreements but sometimes it also occurs by reciprocity and comity as a matter of courtesy and goodwill between sovereigns as in this case. Therefore, ‘world public order’ is the recurring theme based on which the extradition is practised by the states,” the CJI added.
Given the repeated assertions from Salem that the extradition stood revoked by the rulings of the Portuguese Supreme Court followed by the concurrence of their constitutional court, the bench said both India and Portugal were two sovereign states with efficient and independent judicial systems.
“As a consequence, in unequivocal terms, the verdict by the Constitutional Court of Portugal is not binding on this court but only has persuasive value,” Justices Sathasivam and Chelameswar said. The apex court had earlier said that all charges filed against Salem held good. However, it decided to accept the CBI’s request made through attorney general G E Vahanvati for dropping of additional charges slapped on Salem in the hope that it would harmonize its own decision with that of Portuguese courts.
The court had earlier held that since the additional charges attracted lesser punishment than the charges for which Salem was extradited, it was perfectly legal for the trial court to frame the additional charges. On Monday, it recorded the AG’s assurance that the agency was in the process of withdrawing other charges pending in various states against Salem, which are claimed to be in violation of the extradition order.
Meanwhile, last week, Salem’s lawyer had filed an application in the TADA court in Mumbai stating he was feeling insecure in any jail and that he should be transferred to the Portugal embassy in Goa. A history sheeter, Devendra Jagtap alias JD, was arrested for shooting at Salem on June 27 in Taloja prison. Salem sustained wounds on his fingers. Qureishi added that the Delhi high court has instructed dropping of the MCOCA charges against Salem in a 2002 extortion case, but the trial is still on for the past two years.
CHARGES, TRIAL & CASE SO FAR SALEM MOVES LISBON HIGH COURT
ABU SALEM’S PLEA Transfer him to a Lisbon jail
HIS EXTRADITION IN 2005 Salem and his then companion, actor Monica Bedi, were extradited to India on November 11, 2005. Salem was arrested in eight cases, including the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts. India had assured Portugal of no charges entailing death penalty or imprisonment of more than 25 years
Salem filed a petition in the Lisbon High Court, alleging violation of the ‘Rule of Speciality’. In a September 19, 2012, ruling, Lisbon court said there had been a breach of the undertaking given by India
Salem sought closure of trial against him in various courts here after Portugal Supreme Court upheld the order of a lower court, terminating his extradition for “violation” of deportation rules by Indian authorities
SUPREME COURT STAYS TRIAL The Supreme Court stayed the trial after he approached the apex court against TADA court’s order of January 31, 2013, rejecting his plea for closure
SHOT IN JAIL Salem was shot at in Taloja’s high security anda cell by another inmate, Devendra Jatap alias JD, on June 27, 2013. He sustained wounds on his fi ngers
FEELING ‘INSECURE’ Last week, Salem’s lawyer filed an application in the TADA court in Mumbai stat- ing he was feeling “insecure in jail” and that he should be transferred to the Portugal embassy in Goa
SC RULING The Supreme Court on Monday allowed CBI to drop six charges under antiterror law TADA, Explosives Act and Arms Act against Abu Salem while maintaining that his extradition to India remained unaffected
The Times of India, August 6, 2013