NEW DELHI: The Government of India is bound by the commitment given to the Portugal government on December 17, 2002, by the then deputy prime minister L K Advani that the maximum sentence handed out to gangster Abu Salem would not exceed 25 years, the Union Home Secretary told the Supreme Court.
“The period of 25 years which is mentioned in the assurance will be abided by the Union of India as the appropriate time subject to the remedies which may be available,” Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla said in the affidavit submitted before the court.
“The question of the Union of India honouring its assurance will arise only when the period of 25 years is going to expire. Before the said date, the appellant-convict cannot raise any arguments based on the said assurance. Therefore, the contention of petitioner about non-compliance of assurance is premature and based on hypothetical surmises and never be raised in present proceedings,” it further stated.
The period of 25 years expires on November 10, 2030. The Supreme Court had on April 12 granted the last opportunity to the Home Secretary to file the affidavit on the issue. On the last date of hearing, the Solicitor General had said that Abu Salem is a convict in Mumbai serial blasts case and cannot dictate terms either to the court or to the government. This came on the submission by Salem’s lawyer that the Home Secretary should file the affidavit by the next day.