The Supreme Court on Tuesday commuted the death sentences awarded by Calcutta High Court to two key accused in the 2002 American Center attack case.
A bench of Justices A K Patnaik and FMI Kalifulla noted that the case was based on only circumstantial evidence and although their complicity was proved in the offence, their crime did not fall in the category of rarest of the rare.
Md Jamiluddin Nasir will serve 30 years in jail whereas Aftab Ansari, the bench held, will serve the life term without any remission. Both were on the death row for the 2002 attack.
The Calcutta High Court had in 2010 upheld the death sentences awarded to the duo by a lower court. While three of the other five convicted by the lower court were sentenced to life, the High Court acquitted the remaining two for lack of evidence.
Six policemen were killed and 14 injured in the attack, masterminded by Ansari, stated to be a Dubai-based don. Two motorcycle-borne assilants had on January 22, 2002 opened fire from AK-47 and AK-56 assault rifles on the policemen guarding the American Center. Ansari was arrested in Dubai soon thereafter and deported to India on February 9, 2002.
The duo was death sentences for waging war against the state and possession of prohibited weapons.
Both the convicts had claimed in their appeals that they could not have been sentenced to death on the basis of circumstantial evidence.
The assailants then got into the car in which they came and drove off.