India may mean many things to many but one thing is common – it has a robustly functional democracy – a 2:30 AM hearing on Yakub Memon in the Supreme Court shows it.

Yes, Yakub Memon’s case is not going to be a beginning to undo the chasm and malaise that beset Indian democracy.

It is not going to address the problem of ‘legal remedy getting costlier’ and therefore being not available to the majority of the population.

India’s top court, in an unprecedented move, in a first, opened after midnight to hear someone who was going to die in next few hours after being given death sentence.

And the development is indeed a positive factors, is an indicator of how strong are democratic values – irrespective of the reasons working behind it.

The point is – India’s apex court worked on it – even after rejecting Yakub Memon’s last legal options just few hours earlier.

Yes, India’s democracy is ‘robustly functional’ because India is the world largest democracy and has been so for nearly 70 years in spite of multitudes of problems working overtime to drag it backward. Its future is rightly expected to keep positive promises to work for.

In fact, India is the only democracy in the world where large population groups of different religions coexist under a common Constructional administration. Yes, religion does give them some specific leverages but that is mostly individual in nature and doesn’t intervene with the nation’s governance.

Yes, it is daydreaming to expect that this unprecedented late night/early morning hearing by the Supreme Court is going to set a trend where people with such ‘extreme grievance conditions’ will be able to knock the apex court at any hour of the day.

Majority will simply not get the coordinates required – lawyers and round the clock coverage – that Yakub Memon got and that made it possible – something that made the apex court take cognizance of a late night plea to conduct a hearing.

Debates like ‘death penalty has no place in a civilized world’ have their own validity but we need to be equally sensitive to the issue that it is an endless debate between ‘being right’ in abolishing death penalty and ‘being justified’ in demanding harshest punishment to the perpetrators (including capital punishment).

And our democracy gives space to both, or even to them who are still not clear what is their viewpoint.

And the late night hearing by the Supreme Court on plea of Yakub Memon’s lawyers and by a battery of lawyers working to abolish the death penalty from Indian penal system should be seen in this context.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Tomorrow is July 30 when Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s last rites will take place in his home town Rameswaram.

Tomorrow is also the day when Yakub Memon is scheduled to hang in Nagpur Central Prison for his role in 1993 Mumbai blasts.

With today’s hearings in the Supreme Court, all legal options available to Yakub came to an ‘almost’ end with the apex court refusing to stay or commute his death sentence.

‘Almost’ because while writing this, a news came that his lawyers filed another petition in the Supreme Court challenging decision of Maharashtra’s Governor to reject his mercy plea.

Now, we don’t know if what is going to happen this petition but while writing this, we can now say that the President has rejected Yakub’s mercy plea.

That means, now a miracle is needed to save Yakub from the gallows, about which we cannot say anything.

Yakub Memon’s hanging, no doubt, has become a political issue and each side, involved politically, is trying to get maximum political mileage from the ongoing, heated political debate that has swept the consciousness of the nation for the past two days, or on any recent day when there was an important hearing in the case.

But irrespective of the political debate, there is an intense human side to it – that is between the perpetrators and the victims.

Irrespective of people and advocates sparking debates on ‘abolishing death sentence’, victims would always, in almost cases (obviously there have been and there would be exceptions), demand harshest of the punishment for the criminals directly affecting their lives.

Advocates fighting to ‘abolish’ death sentence are right in their spirit.

Victims directly affected by the crimes are justified in their spirit in demanding death sentence.

And it is an endless struggle between ‘being right in their spirit’ and ‘being justified in their spirit’ and we, probably, are not mature enough as a society, to take a decision that would be in the larger interest of its members.

But, the heart is not feeling good on this decision – on the decision to hang Yakub Memon.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –