My apologies for loading this one a bit late because of some problem with my PC.
Is there hope for just and fair trial?
It is so ironical that while some sections rejoiced and celebrated the hanging of Yakub Memon on July 30, 2015 as a great retribution day, there is a man sitting in Karachi who must be muttering loudly, “I told you so.”
That’s none other than one of the main accused in the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts Tiger Memon the elder brother of Yakub Memon hanged after successive bench of judges from TADA Judge P D Kode to the Chief Justice of India H L Dattu, the last of them who heard a plea by concerned citizens and lawyers late on July 29 night not to hang Yakub, brushed aside with contempt and disdain all the appeals of the man who kept swearing his innocence till the end.
There is an element of deliberate dishonesty on the part of the state, including the judicial establishment. First, be it late B Raman or other officers in the know of things, they kept to themselves how and under what circumstances Yakub Memon chose to return from Karachi, till Kode handed him the death sentence. This in spite of the fact that during the trial Yakub witnessed how his side of the picture was not coming out and therefore chose to write to the Chief Justice of India in 1999, explaining his position, swearing his innocence and clearly establishing that he had voluntarily returned to India.
In his letter, Yakub , a successful chartered accountant before March, 1993, wrote that his brother Tiger had waned him saying “Tum wahan Gandhiwadi ban ke jaa rahe ho, atankwadi bana diye jaoge.” Yakub’s other family members too, confident of their innocence, followed him back to India. Today many of them might be finding some truth in Tiger’s forewarning.
Those seeing retribution and justification in Yakub’s hanging the Manusmriti quoting A R Dave included, would not like to be reminded that had it not been for Yakub and his family’s voluntary act, there was no way the Indian arm of law could ever reach him. There is Tiger Memon, Dawood Ibrahim and other main accused all sitting pretty in Karachi, and for last 22 years successive Indian governments, including the six year long NDA government could do precious little to get them back.
In fact they got brought back from Portugal Abu Salem the former driver of Dawood who transported bombs for the Mumbai blasts, while Sardar Patel II was the Deputy Prime Minister of Indian, after giving a solemn assurance to the Portuguese government not to hang Abu Salem. Abu Salem was extradited against his wish but enjoys immunity while Yakub, who came voluntarily has been hanged.
It was a sad day for all those who still have some faith in the fairness and just approach of our respected judges. Forget being fair and just they do not even acknowledge the fact that Yakub has been knocking on their door since 1999 reiterating his innocence.
In a letter to the Chief Justice of India in July 1999, Yakub wrote that he considered himself as a good citizen of this country, who tried to help the government in whatever small manner that he could.”
Exuding tremendous confidence in the fairness of the judicial trial, Yakub wrote, “My humble effort and sacrifice would be known after the (Mumbai blasts) case will come to its logical conclusion”
Recalling his professional background as a successful chartered accountant, running the firm with his childhood friend Chaitanya Mehta, Yakub wrote in the letter, “We were doing very well. We had about 200 files. We are handling income tax, sales tax,, audit and accounts management of the clients. Since then I was very busy.”
About his return he wrote, “I was very happy and relaxed because after 18 months (the period he spent in Karachi) of hard work, patience and struggle, I achieved this feat. It was a difficult and risky adventure,” he wrote. Indeed it was risky and a fatal adventure at that from the word Go because if the ISI had got a wind of Yakub’s plans before he landed in Kathmandu, would they have allowed him to come to India with a suitcase full of documents, photographs and videos to establish the ISI protection to Dawood, Tiger and others? Definitely not. They would have bumped him off before the Indian agencies whisked him away from Kathmandu in a special R&AW plane, according to late B Raman.
The naïve Yakub still didn’t gauge the psyche of the Indian establishment when he wondered in his letter, “Why am I made to suffer only for the reason that the prime accused is in relation to me” and concluded by reminding the Chief Justice of India, “The purpose of giving this brief about myself is to bring home just one single point. Where was the time to hate anyone?”
Till the end Yakub continued believing in his innocence and the fairness and just approach of the Indian judicial system and eventually he went to the gallows saying, “If they are punishing me for the sins of my brother, then I accept the verdict. But if they are punishing me because they think I was guilty, then it is wrong. I am innocent.”
Yakub couldn’t imagine the state delegating the responsibility of deciding his fate in the hands of judges like P D Kode or A R Dave, one clearly showing utter disdain for legal niceties and the other looking at the Manusmriti, the code of conduct of laws for the Aryavrats, and quoted it, in unabashedly justifying the rejection of Yakub’s revision petition, saying “The King (naturally him in this case) who has to be a saint, must punish the sinners or sin will fall upon him” and that “A danda (stick) has to be used for those who inflict cruelty on the innocents.” In that sense the trial was a sham. Yakub’s fate had been decided, unknown to him, the day he chose to return to India and no amount of pleading or putting evidence on record to the contrary would have helped him. So outraged Dave was over his fellow bench member Kurian Joseph’s attempt to look at the latest evidence that his indignation spilled over to the next case as well wherein he observed, “concerns in the other case was for a person who killed 257 people.”
With judges like Kode and Dave and court officials like Ujwal Nikam, telling lies without batting an eyelid and later proudly announcing it or Mukul Rohtagi naturally a BJP man, where does one go to seek justice?