The Supreme Court Monday stayed the execution of Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Mohd Arif in the 2000 Red Fort attack case in which three people, including two Army jawans, were killed.
A bench led by Chief Justice R M Lodha also referred the petition by Pakistani national Arif alias Ashfaq to the constitution bench to decide whether a person can suffer two alternate sentences consecutively and whether a higher punishment could be awarded after suffering a protracted jail term.
Ashfaq’s counsel Tripurari Ray sought his release on the ground that he has already spent over 13 years behind bars. He submitted that execution of the death sentence would amount to punishing him twice for the crime, as he has already spent over 13 years, which is nearly equivalent to life imprisonment before a convict is entitled to remission.
The petition also said that he has been suffering from physical and mental illness due to the long delay in judicial proceedings as also on the part of the government in executing the sentence.
Ashfaq was handed the death penalty by a trial court in 2005. The SC in September 2011 dismissed his appeal.
Ashfaq was held to be one of the six terrorists who had sneaked into the 17th century monument and opened indiscriminate fire on the guards of the seventh battalion of Rajputana Rifles, killing three including a civilian.
The parties concerned have been directed to submit reports on the current status of construction.