Delhi High Court grants time to Abu Salem to file documents in support of plea alleging illegal detention

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Tuesday granted time to extradited gangster Abu Salem, serving life imprisonment for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, to place on record judgement relied upon by him in support of his habeas corpus petition claiming that his detention was illegal.

A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Anup Jairam Bhambhani said Salem counsel should place on record the electronic copy of the judgement on which he was relying upon to show that his habeas corpus petition was maintainable.

The bench listed the matter for further hearing on March 14 and also allowed advocate S Hariharan, representing Salem, to file brief written submissions.

A habeas corpus petition is filed seeking direction to produce a person who is missing or illegally detained.

The high court was hearing a plea by Salem seeking to declare his detention in India as illegal and that he be repatriated to Portugal in view of conventions governing the field and the treaty conditions.

The high court had earlier observed that a habeas corpus petition filed by Salem was not made out as his detention cannot be illegal on being convicted by a court of law.

It had said that once a court of law has put Salem on trial and held him guilty, how he could say that the custody is illegal.

It had referred to a Supreme Court judgement and said “even if initially your detention was bad in law, after your conviction by a court of law, your custody does not remain illegal.

” Salem’s counsel has sought to set aside the detention saying the extradition was done on various assurances which have been violated and his custody becomes illegal.

He said Salem has been convicted for additional charges which were not part of the treaty.

The plea said Salem was extradited in 2002 and has been languishing in jail since then and there is no hope that the pending appeals will be decided anytime soon.

On October 27, 2021, the Supreme Court has refused to grant bail to Salem in the murder case.

On February 25, 2015, the special TADA court had awarded Salem life imprisonment for murdering Mumbai-based builder Pradeep Jain in 1995, along with his driver Mehndi Hassan.

The sentence of another accused in the case, Virendra Jhamb, was set off against the period of detention undergone by him in prison during the various stages of investigation.

According to police, on March 7, 1995, Jain was shot dead by assailants outside his Juhu bungalow after he allegedly refused to part with his huge property to Salem.

While one other accused Naeem Khan had turned approver, another accused Riyaz Siddiqui, who had also become approver, later turned hostile in the court.

The trial of Siddiqui was later separated.

The court, in January 2014, had dropped some charges against Salem in the case on the request of prosecution which said that some changes need to be withdrawn to maintain cordial relations between two sovereign countries – India and Portugal.

Salem, also a convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, was extradited from Portugal on November 11, 2005, after a prolonged legal battle.

The Supreme Court of Portugal, in 2012, had dismissed an appeal of the CBI which had challenged the termination of his extradition.

In June 2012, Salem was shot at in Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai allegedly by gangster Devendra Jagtap alias JD, an accused in the murder case of advocate Shahid Azmi who had represented a 26/11 Mumbai attack accused.

In June 2017 Salem was convicted and later awarded a life sentence for his role in the 1993 serial blast case in Mumbai.

Salem was found guilty of transporting weapons from Gujarat to Mumbai ahead of the blasts.

On March 12, 1993, the country’s commercial capital had witnessed an unprecedented attack with a series of 12 bomb explosions that took place one after another in about two hours.

The dastardly attacks had left 257 dead, 713 persons seriously injured, and destroyed properties worth crores.

In 2020, a Portugal court dismissed a plea of Salem claiming that the Indian government had violated the condition of his extradition.

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