'Don't Lecture The Judiciary': Supreme Court Tells Centre In Abu Salem Case

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had termed Abu Salem's claim that India is not complying with the assurance is 'premature and based on hypothetical surmises'.

1993 Mumbai serial blast case convict Abu Salem

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the Union Home Ministry's stance on gangster Abu Salem's petition. The petition was about Salem's jail sentence exceeding 25 years and the Centre dubbed it premature.

The apex court also objected to the Centre asking it to decide on the case.

Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh were hearing a petition by Abu Salem that India had guaranteed to Portugal courts that his jail sentence cannot exceed 25 years. 

"Don't lecture the judiciary. We do not take it kindly when you tell us to decide something which you have to decide," Justice SK Kaul told the Home Ministry. "The Home Secretary is nobody to tell us to decide the issue," the judge said.

Previously, the Union Home Ministry mentioned in its affidavit, "It is not the appropriate time" for the government to take a call on Abu Salem's case and that the Supreme Court may decide."

Responding to that, the judge added, "We do not like sentences in the Home Ministry affidavit like 'we will take a decision at an appropriate time'."

The Supreme Court also urged the Centre to avoid any sort of ambiguity on what they have got to say.

What happened before?

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Tuesday filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court stating that the Centre was bound by the assurance given by then deputy Prime Minister LK Advani to the Portugal government that any sentence handed out to Abu Salem will not exceed 25 years.

"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," the Home Secretary said.

He called Abu Salem's claim that India is not complying with the assurance "premature and based on hypothetical surmises" as, according to him, the question of assurance would come into effect after the 25-year period ended on November 10, 2030.

On February 2, the apex court also demanded a response from the Centre regarding Abu Salem's case as it was not satisfied with the affidavit filed by the CBI which said that the assurance given by India to Portugal is not binding on Indian courts. 

Abu Salem was extradited from Portugal on November 11, 2005, after a drawn-out legal battle.

Why was Abu Salem convicted in 2017?

Abu Salem was convicted and sentenced to a life term in 2017 for his role in the 1993 serial blast case in Mumbai. He was found guilty of transporting weapons from Gujarat to Mumbai ahead of the blasts.

In 1993, 257 people were killed and more than 700 people were injured in the massive serial blast in Mumbai where a series of bomb explosions took place within a short span of two hours,