New Delhi: Despite a last-ditch effort at appealing to India’s highest court to provide a grace period of 14 days, Yakub Memon, the lone convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, was reportedly executed at the Nagpur central prison on Thursday morning. Hours before his execution, he appealed to the Supreme Court one last time which held an unprecedented early morning hearing.

In the days leading to the execution, the country has faced questions over the death penalty.

In an editorial last week, The Hindu said that hanging Memon “will only give the impression that the lone man available among the many brains behind the ghastly act of terrorism is being singled out". Thursday’s editorial titled “Inhumane and unconscionable" states that the time has come to end the debate around death penalty and take “the moral position that there shall be no death penalty on the statute book, regardless of the heinousness of the offence, the circumstances or the number of fatalities involved".

The Indian Express asks readers to “leave aside high moral or spiritual principles", but points out that the “decision to execute rests on caprice". That caprice is precisely what the death penalty is, everywhere it is in effect.

Others like Congress MP in the Rajya Sabha Mani Shankar Aiyar have written and questioned the decision pointing out that the “commuted co-conspirators played a much bigger role, and a much more critical and direct role in the actual execution of the bomb blasts than did Yakub Memon. Why should he be hanged while the others are not?"

S. Hussain Zaidi, the author of Black Friday, an account of the 1993 blasts, added to that: “Since they didn’t get Tiger Memon, any other Memon would do. And Yakub, being educated, smart and suave, fitted the bill. It didn’t matter that they were shooting the messenger."

In an opinion piece in Scroll.in, Jyoti Punwani writes that the Supreme Court’s upholding the death sentence for the man who surrendered hoping to clear his name in the Mumbai blasts case, also draws attention to the miscarriage of justice in the preceding riots. Here is a chart that shows how partisan India’s justice system can be.

The Caravan has an interesting take on why it’s often the individual predilection of judges which determines what constitutes our collective conscience and how the judiciary misappropriated the phrase “collective conscience". And here is executive director of Amnesty International views in Outlook.

Meanwhile, interesting data has emerged suggesting that despite its informal moratorium, India did not stop handing out death sentences. Data collected by the Centre on the Death Penalty at the National Law University in Delhi shows that trial courts across the country have sentenced 1,800 people to death over the last 15 years, but only 5% of these sentences were confirmed by the Supreme Court. Around 385 people are currently on death row in India.

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