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2008 Ahmedabad blasts: HC grants more time to serve notice to death row convicts, no appeal filed yet

Notably, none of the 38 convicts facing the gallows have appealed against the death sentence. Meanwhile, the state government Thursday pushed for moving ahead with the necessary procedures to confirm the death sentence.

38 convicts were sentenced to death for involvement in the 2008 Ahmedabad blasts. (PTI File)

The Gujarat High Court Thursday granted more time to convicts on death row in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts case to respond to the notices in relation to the confirmation of their death sentences. Further, it also directed for issuing notices on the confirmation of death sentences to those who remained unserved and has now posted the matter for further hearing on July 28.

Notably, none of the 38 convicts facing the gallows have appealed against the death sentence. Meanwhile, the state government Thursday pushed for moving ahead with the necessary procedures to confirm the death sentence.

The developments come more than three months after an Ahmedabad special court, on February 18, sentenced 38 of the 49 accused to death. The 38 have been convicted for offences of murder under the Indian Penal Code, UAPA, Explosive Substance Act and other provisions in the serial blasts case.

On March 9, a division bench of the HC issued notices to the 38 on death row under provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code. While issuing the notice, the bench had pointed out that if the convicts file appeals before the HC against the Ahmedabad special court’s verdict within the stipulated 90 days from the date of the judgement, hearing of the appeal would take precedence over the Gujarat government’s confirmation application.

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Keeping the same in mind, the bench had kept the notices returnable for June 9.

However, two convicts—Saif-ur-Rehman alias Saifu alias Saif Abdulrehman Ansari and Mohammadsaif alias Rahul Shami alias Keriseva Saadab Ahmed Shaikh—are yet to be served the notice. The notice has not been received back from as many as 11 of the convicts on death row. Notably, both Saif-ur-Rehman and Mohammadsaif were also awarded death sentences in December 2019 by a Jaipur court for the May 2008 blasts in that city.

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As the criminal confirmation case was taken up Thursday by a division bench of Justices Vipul Pancholi and Rajendra Sareen, public prosecutor Mitesh Amin pointed out that the appeal period of three months was already complete and no appeal had been filed by the convicts. Amin added that if the accused did not intend to file an appeal, then “certainly the state will assist the court in the inquiry which is contemplated in the provision (of CrPC).” CrPC provisions grant high courts the power to direct for further inquiry or additional evidence to be taken up on the guilt or innocence of the convicted person at the stage of confirmation of the death sentence.

Meanwhile, advocate MM Shaikh informed the court that he has been requested by one of the convicts—Kamruddin Nagori—to appear on his behalf to seek for three months more. Owing to the bulky records, Shaikh added, the convicts have not been able to file the appeals. It was pointed out that the sessions court judgement was over 7,000 pages and was in Gujarati with as many as 1,163 witnesses examined during the trial. The state opposed the grant of further time with Amin submitting that “in a matter like this, (the court) cannot grant three months’ time.”

First published on: 10-06-2022 at 01:29 IST
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