Breather for India in Abu Salem extradition case



New Delhi: India has got a breather with the Constitutional Court of Portugal staying the order of its Supreme Court on violation of extradition agreement of underworld don Abu Salem by New Delhi by slapping new charges invoking death penalty.

CBI sources said that the Constitutional Court, while admitting India's plea, stayed the order of the Supreme Court of Portugal. India in its plea had also mentioned the recent order of Supreme Court of India whereby it had stayed trial against Salem with regard to additional charges levelled against the underworld don.

India had given an executive assurance to Portugal that it would not slap any charges which invoke death penalty to Salem and would not keep him behind bars for more than 25 years.

Delhi and Mumbai Police, however, had slapped charges which invoke death penalty against him leaving the government and the CBI red-faced.

Later police wanted to withdraw the charges but the courts did not approve of it that led to long-standing legal battle which ended in Supreme Court in September 2010 that rejected the underworld don's plea.

Salem had filed a petition in the High Court in Lisbon alleging violation of Rule of Speciality after which a judgement was pronounced on September 19, last year, saying there had been breach of the Indian undertaking given to the Portuguese authorities.

The CBI, through the Indian Mission in Lisbon, had countered the plea by claiming that the issue of 'violation of Rule of Speciality' has been examined at length by the Supreme Court of India on similar petitions filed by Salem in India.

The Indian Supreme Court had in its order dated September 10, 2010 held that there has been no violation of Rule of Speciality after examining the issues pertaining to it with reference to and in comparison with extradition laws of the UK, the US and Portugal.

However, that had not enthused the Supreme Court of Portugal which had rejected a petition filed by the Indian Embassy and upheld the order of the lower court saying, "The decision of Court of Appeal, Lisbon vide which it had held that there was a breach of Rule of Speciality in the matter of extradition of Abu Salem."

India had moved to the Constitutional Court of Lisbon and appealed again the order besides annexing the order of February 17 of Supreme Court of justices P Sathasivam and J Chelameswar whereby stay on trial for all fresh cases, which invoked a death penalty or jail for 25 years, was ordered.

Salem, the prime accused along with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, and his girl friend Monica Bedi were extradited to India on November 11, 2005, after a marathon legal process in Portugal lasting three years.

The extradition of Salem, who was also wanted in various cases including the murder of noted film producer Gulshan Kumar, came after an assurance by Indian government to Portugal that he would not be given death penalty, a key requirement in extradition proceedings in Europe.

PTI