SC reserves order on Abu Salem plea

SC reserves order on Abu Salem plea
New Delhi, July 9: The Supreme Court today reserved its order on gangster Abu Salem plea for quashing trials against him in various cases after the Portugal court terminated his extradition to India for "violation" of deportation rules by authorities here.

A bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam said that it would pass order after considering CBI's submission that the agency is ready to drop certain charges against 45-year-old Salem under TADA and Explosive Substances Act in view of its commitment to Portuguese government at the time of his extradition that he shall not be awarded death penalty or detained in custody for more than 25 years if found guilty.

Attorney General G E Vahanwati said government is committed to its assurance given to the Portuguese court and sought the apex court's permission to drop the additional charges framed against Salem by the trial court.

"The applicant (CBI) reiterates its commitment which was given to the Portugal government/court when Salem was extradited to India to the extent that he shall not be awarded death penalty and/or detained in custody for a period more than 25 years if found guilty," the application filed by the agency said.

As a matter of fact, charges framed by trial court have been termed as additional charges by the Portuguese courts because of which the Portuguese courts have come to the conclusion that there has been a violation of rule of speciality.

The CBI, however, clarified that withdrawing certain charges against Salem would not harm the CBI case. The agency sought withdrawl of charges under section 5 and 6 of TADA and sections 4(b) and 5 of the Explosive Substances Act. The agency also urged the apex court, which had stayed the trial against Salem, to vacate its order and allow the trial to resume.

The Supreme court had stayed the trial after Salem approached the apex court against the TADA court's order of January 31, rejecting his plea for closure of his trial. He had filed the application after the Portugal Supreme Court upheld the order of a lower court there, terminating his extradition for "violation" of deportation rules by Indian authorities.

At the time of Salem's extradition, India had assured Portugal that no charges entailing death penalty or imprisonment of more than 25 years would be pressed against him, but such charges were later brought in. Salem is currently lodged in Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai.

Following the Portugal SC's order, he had appealed to the TADA court, saying that the trial against him should be closed. Salem then filed a petition in the high court at Lisbon, alleging violation of the Rule of Speciality.

In the ruling on September 19 last year, the Lisbon court said there had been a breach of the undertaking given by India.

Salem and his then companion, actress Monica Bedi, were extradited to India on November 11, 2005, after a marathon legal process lasting three years.


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