Published on: May 6, 2022 at 16:52 IST
The Supreme Court reserved Orders on the Petition filed by Gangster Abu Salem seeking enforcement of the solemn assurance given by India in 2002 while extraditing him from Portugal that he will not be sentenced to a Jail term beyond 25 years.
“Based on the arguments made, two scenarios emerge before us — whether looking into the assurance given before a foreign court, the executive should be told to take a time-bound decision on his remission just before completion of 25 years or going by the principle of comity of courts, this court should say that in the light of the assurance we read down the sentence of life imprisonment to a period of 25 years,” a Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh said, before reserving the Judgment.
The Union Home Secretary had last month filed an Affidavit before the Apex Court stating that India was bound by the assurance it had given to the Portugal Court in December 2002 but suggested that the plea of Salem was premature as the question of his release will arise in November 2030, when he will complete 25 years of sentence.
Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj reiterated this position. “The decision is best left to the executive to consider under Article 72 (pardoning power of President) or Article 161 (pardoning power of Governor) at the relevant time,” he said.
“Sovereign assurance given by one country to another country cannot be read into judicial exercise of power.”
“Once he is detained arising out of a process issued from this Court, how you can exclude that period,” the Bench noted.
Advocate Rishi Malhotra, appearing for Salem said, “Portugal Court has refused Extradition in another Case looking into the violation of the solemn assurance by India”.
The Home Secretary’s Affidavit said, “It is respectfully submitted that the Government of India is bound by the assurance dated December 17, 2002. 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.”
“Advocate (appearing for the Petitioner) seeks leave to withdraw the Writ Petition in view of subsequent developments. Writ Petition is dismissed as withdrawn,” said the Bench also comprising Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar.