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Ahmedabad blast sentence hearing begins: Defence says not ‘rarest of rare’ case, cites convicts’ education

Of 78 accused who faced trial, the designated special judge AR Patel convicted 49, while acquitting 28 in his verdict pronounced Tuesday. One accused has turned approver.

Of 78 accused who faced trial, the designated special judge AR Patel convicted 49, while acquitting 28 in his verdict pronounced Tuesday. One accused has turned approver.

An Ahmedabad special court designated for speedy trial of 2008 Ahmedabad serial bomb blasts case, Friday began hearing submissions for quantum of punishment for the 49 convicted in the incident which had left 56 dead and over 200 injured on July 26, 2008.

The defence lawyers, arguing against death penalty said that while earlier such an incident of serial blasts could have been considered as a “rarest of the rare case”, the same cannot be said to be true since 1992, after which “such incidents have been seen at several places in India”.

At least three defence lawyers argued for a “chance for reformation” for the accused who have been in prison for 13 years, with one lawyer submitting that many of the accused-convicts pursued courses on Gandhian and Ambdekarite philosophy while in prison and if given an opportunity, they will follow it in the outside world as at their core, the convicts are “not criminal-minded people”.

Of 78 accused who faced trial, the designated special judge AR Patel convicted 49, while acquitting 28 in his verdict pronounced Tuesday. One accused has turned approver.

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The defence listed the incidents such as Malegaon blast and Modasa blast in September 2008, Samjhauta Express bombings in 2007, Delhi blasts and Jaipur blasts in 2008, and further added that such incidents continue to occur and are commonplace.

The defence reasoned that while such incidents cannot be taken lightly, but if one goes to the root of the reason for such incidents, it will be seen that such incidents arise from “injustice”, leading to a domino effect, and thus one injustice should not be multiplied by another injustice and awarding the maximum punishment will not lead to the end of such incidents and neither will it serve the purpose of justice.

It was submitted that while many among those convicted have lost their faith from the justice system, “it must also be considered that their anxiety stems from the sense of injustice they face”, the defence argued.

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Several defence lawyers also submitted that the case has been broadly based on circumstantial evidence.
The 49 convicts made individual submissions on why the court may consider minimum sentence, which is life imprisonment, instead of the maximum punishment of death sentence.

The 49 convicts appeared virtually from the respective jails where they are lodged, including from the Sabarmati Central jail.

Some cited ailing parents, familial circumstances including economic situation, while some of the accused refused to make a submission on leniency, stating that they do not have faith in the “system” and will leave their fate to the Almighty.

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One defence lawyer, representing several of the accused persons, submitted that several of the accused spent their time in jail gaining education and added that the accused-convicts are persons with families, parents, wives and children and at this juncture, if those convicted are awarded the maximum punishment, the families will be the “real sufferers”.

Submitting that the accused deserved “chance at reformation”, at least three lawyers argued that the court may take into consideration Criminal Procedure Code sections 427 and 428.

CrPC section 427 provides for concurrent sentencing and section 428 provides that the period of detention undergone by the accused, to be set off against the sentence or imprisonment.

Most of the accused have been in jail for almost 13 years. It was submitted that if the court decides to award life imprisonment, then it may also consider simple life imprisonment in the nature of concurrent sentence, and not a life imprisonment sentence where the convicts are left to spend the remaining part of their lives in jail.

Judge Patel has kept the matter for further hearing on Monday, February 14.

First published on: 12-02-2022 at 04:54 IST
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