India is in touch with Portuguese authorities to chalk out the next course of action in the Abu Salem case after the top court in Portugal upheld quashing of extradition of the gangster who was brought nearly seven years back, the Supreme Court was informed today.
Appearing before a bench headed by Justice P Sathasivam, Attorney General GE Vahanwati sought more time to decide on the action after a Portuguese court terminated Salem’s extradition on the ground that India had violated the provisions of the extradition treaty.
The bench had earlier asked the CBI and the Ministry of External Affairs to file their replies to Salem’s plea for quashing criminal cases against him after termination of his extradition and also asked Attorney General to assist it in deciding the case.
Salem, currently lodged in Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail, had filed the application in the apex court after the Portugal Supreme Court upheld the order of a lower court there.
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.
Delhi and Mumbai Police had slapped charges which invoke death penalty against him leaving the government and the CBI red-faced.
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 violationof extradition terms. In the ruling on September 19, last year, the Lisbon court said there had been a breach of the undertaking given by India.
Salem and his then companion, actress Monica Bedi, were extradited to India on November 11, 2005, after a marathon legal process lasting three years.
The apex court earlier on February 17 had stayed the TADA proceedings in two cases against the gangster observing that the order of Portugal court terminating his extradition to India has to be respected.
It, however, had refused to stay proceedings in other five cases and issued notices to the CBI and the Centre on Salem’s plea to quash all criminal cases against him.