The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Salem solution ready

New Delhi, Nov. 14: Let the law take its course and the executive its own.

The Centre has asked investigating and law enforcement agencies to pursue all cases against Abu Salem without getting into the intricacies of the extradition agreement reached with the Portugal government.

The government feels that it can enforce the Portuguese conditions by invoking the executive’s power to commute sentences.

“The judiciary is free to go for fair trials and order whatever punishment it deems fit. However, the executive holds the power to commute the death penalty and the duration of life imprisonment through the President or the governor.

“To abide by the terms of agreement reached with Portugal authorities, the government will have to do it when the time comes,” said an official who was involved in drafting the agreement for Salem’s extradition.

Salem faces over 50 cases in India but he was extradited on eight specific cases, prompting the CBI to declare last week he could be tried only on those charges. The cases that can be pursued cover the Bombay blasts, but not several high-profile cases such as the murder of music mogul Gulshan Kumar.

However, according to official sources, the investigating agencies have now been told that they are free to go in for trials in all the cases against Salem.

The Portugal pact had also precluded the possibility of death sentence on Salem ' capital punishment is banned in the European Union nation ' and a life term exceeding 25 years.

The agreement had created a piquant situation as the judiciary is not expected to give judgments to suit the government’s compulsions. The special court judge trying Salem had raised the question on Friday.

An official pointed out today that the executive and the judiciary are separate arms and both can pursue their own course of action. “The court can pronounce a death sentence. Similarly, the President enjoys the power to commute a death sentence. The Constitution allows for both,” the official added.


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