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The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence for Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab. The court rejected a plea by Kasab, the only terrorist caught alive during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, to commute the death sentence handed to him by the Bombay High Court, to a life imprisonment sentence.
Now, the only course left for Kasab is to appeal to the President of India for mercy. However, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said if Kasab filed a mercy plea, “We will ensure it is disposed of in minimum time”.
President Pranab Mukherjee has nearly 20 mercy petitions pending before him, including those of Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack, and the mercy petition of Balwant Singh Rajoana, the convicted killer of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.
Kasab’s petition, if filed, would have to await its turn.
However, the President can fast-track a particular case, provided he is convinced of the extraordinary nature of the case.
Confirming the death sentence, Supreme Court stated the primary and foremost offence Kasab was charged with was waging war against India. “We are left with no option, but to uphold the sentence,” it said, adding it was “crystal clear the conspiracy was hatched by Pakistanis.”
Judges Aftab Alam and C K Prasad rejected the 25-year-old Kasab’s contention that he was not given a free and fair trial in the case.
Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who defended Kasab in the apex court, said, “I bow to the verdict of the court. As amicus curiae, I was given an opportunity to advance every convincing argument I could,” he said.
|TALE OF TERROR
Following is the chronology of events in 26/11 terror attack case in which the Supreme Court today upheld the death sentence to Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, Pakistani terrorist convicted in 26/11 Mumbai terror attack
“I made my arguments and the court considered those. No lawyer should be attached to the result of the case....Let us all take pride in our judicial system,” he said, adding he considered Kasab’s case one of the greatest challenges of his career. “I think the court has given anxious consideration to various submissions made on behalf of the accused and that is a matter of satisfaction,” Ramachandran said after the apex court judgment.
He added, “I would not call it an opportunity (to be amicus curiae in Kasab’s case). I think it was an honour given to me. I took it as a sacred duty and performed it to the best of my ability.”