New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Friday upheld a trial court order sentencing three Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists to life imprisonment under the stringent POTA for plotting a terror attack in the national capital, while reducing life terms of two other accused to 11-year jail.
A division bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice S.P. Garg dismissed the appeals of three convicts who were charged under various provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), the Indian Penal Code and the Explosives Substances Act for various crimes, including conspiracy to wage war against the nation.
The bench granted partial relief to two other JeM militants, brothers Atiq-uz-Zama and Raees-uz-Zama and reduced their jail terms to 11 years.
Delhi Police had arrested the five on Aug 30-31, 2003, following a gunfight. The police had recovered a huge quantity of arms and ammunitions from them and had also intercepted a truck containing explosives in a parking lot at Sadar Bazaar here.
Reducing sentences of the brothers, the court said: "The primary reason, why we have awarded less than maximum sentence to accused Atiq-uz-Zama and Raees-uz-Zama is that before their arrest, they individually did not undertake or participate in any terrorist attack or action."
"They did go to Pakistan and as per their confessions, they attended training camps and clandestinely re-entered India, but at the time of search or arrest, no firearm or live explosives substances like bombs etc. were recovered at their behest and from their residence."
It added: "The sentence of 11 years of jail term would meet ends of justice with hope and expectation that they would, in future, act as responsible citizens and not tread on their earlier path."
The appeals of Noor Mohammad Tantre, Pervaiz Ahmed Mir, and Faroz Ahmed Bhat were dismissed, the court saying that the trial court judgment against them was justified.
The high court absolved Zama brothers of the charge of waging war against the nation, while upholding their conviction under the POTA.
The trial court Jan 3, 2011, had convicted the five JeM militants in the case.
Besides arms and ammunition, police also claimed to have recovered a sum of Rs.19.20 lakh from prime accused Tantray, who was held from Sadar Bazar here.
Convicts Raees and Atiq, who hail from Sikandrabad in Uttar Pradesh, are brothers of Habibullah, who was gunned down by Delhi Police along with Pakistani national Zahoor in a shoot-out Aug 30, 2003, in the Millennium Park near Nizamuddin Bridge here.