India’s top court has stayed the execution of death-row convict Yakub Memon in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, according to local media reports.
Memon was sentenced to death by a special court in 2007 after he was found guilty of charges of criminal conspiracy in the blasts that killed more than 200 people. The Supreme Court had upheld Memon’s death sentence last year.
He had petitioned the apex court for reconsideration of its verdict after India’s president, Pranab Mukherjee, rejected his mercy petition last month.
Memom, who has been in jail since 1994, has petitioned the court that his death conviction be converted into life term.
A panel of two Supreme Court judges referred Memon’s petition against his sentence to a higher bench of the same court which will decide whether the review should be held in open court, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.
In the meantime the “execution proceedings will remain stayed”, one of the judges told the court.
‘Architects of the blast’
His brother Tiger Memon and Dawood Ibrahim, the other alleged masterminds of the attacks, have been on the run since 1993.
The court also referred to a Constitution bench a plea of Memon that review petitions in death penalty cases should be decided in open court.
Memon’s laywer said that a similar plea by a death row convict in the 2000 Red Fort attack case had been referred to a Constitution bench, the Times of India newspaper said.
The Supreme Court last year rejected Memon’s appeal for clemency. A judge at the time declared him, his brother Tiger and Dawood Ibrahim to be “architects of the blasts”.
Memon was the only one of 11 people convicted for the 1993 attacks to have his death sentence upheld. The sentences on the others were commuted to life imprisonment.
The court’s decision on Monday follows a landmark ruling in January that places new restrictions on executing prisoners in the world’s biggest democracy.