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SC stays TADA proceedings against Abu Salem

February 17, 2012 16:30 IST
Observing that the order of Portugal court terminating the extradition of Abu Salem to India has to be respected, the Supreme Court on Friday stayed the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act proceedings in two cases against the alleged gangster.

A bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam, however, refused to stay proceedings in other five cases and issued notices to the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Centre on Salem's plea to quash all criminal cases against him. The bench asked the CBI and the Ministry of External Affairs to file their replies within four weeks and also asked Attorney General G E Vahanwati to assist it in deciding Salem's plea.

Out of two TADA cases, one is related to 1993 Mumbai serial balsts.

"We have to respect the order of court of appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice of Portugal," the bench observed. It said that there was an important question involved on whether an executive decision could affect judicial proceedings.

"The matters require consideration of the court and we will admit your plea," the bench said while issuing notices.

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 attracting 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 applied to the TADA court, saying that trial against him should be closed.

The Delhi police's action, which flew in the face of assurance given to Portugal, left the Union government and the CBI embarrassed. Later, the police sought to withdraw those charges, but the Delhi high court as well the Supreme Court did not allow it.

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.

According to the CBI, the Supreme Court of India, in September 2010, had ruled on a similar petition by Salem that there had been no violation of the Rule of Speciality.

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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