India president and supreme court reject clemency for 1993 Mumbai bombings plotter

Indian activists of hardline organization, Hindu Sena, hold posters and shout slogans in support of the death sentence for Yakub Memon in New Delhi, India on July 29, 2015.
Indian activists of hardline organization, Hindu Sena, hold posters and shout slogans in support of the death sentence for Yakub Memon in New Delhi, India on July 29, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's president and supreme court rejected last-ditch pleas to stay the execution of Yakub Memon over his role in the country's worst-ever attack, clearing the way for him to be hanged on Thursday, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.

Lawyers and activists petitioned on behalf of Memon to supreme court Chief Justice H.L. Dattu after Indian President Pranab Mukherjee rejected a clemency plea late on Wednesday.

The failure of the 11th hour appeals mean Memon is set to be hanged on his 53rd birthday in Nagpur in the western state of Maharashtra.

His lawyers had argued to the supreme court that executions are only to be carried out after seven days have passed following the rejection of a mercy petition.

But in a pre-dawn hearing, the court ruled that because his first mercy petition had been rejected last year, the execution met the required rules.

Ruling that a "stay of (the) death warrant could be a travesty of justice", the court said that Memon had "ample time after (the) rejection of first mercy petition to prepare himself for the last and final meeting with family members and for all other purposes", the PTI reported.

Anand Grover, who was among the group who petitioned on Memon's behalf, condemned the supreme court's decision, however, as a "tragic mistake and a tragic decision", according to PTI.

Memon was convicted of plotting a series of coordinated bomb attacks in India's commercial capital Mumbai in 1993 that killed 257 people, the deadliest attacks ever to hit the country.

Authorities in Nagpur have barred people from assembling outside the jail and beefed up security in sensitive areas in Mumbai.

Memon was the only one of 11 people convicted to have his death sentence upheld on appeal.