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Monday, May 17, 2021

Batla House convict Ariz Khan gets death: no leniency, says court

"If police officers are allowed to be murdered... and law does not express its strongest condemnation by way of extreme penalties, then justice to those who are called up to defend justice would fail," the prosecution told the court.

Written by Anand Mohan J | New Delhi |
Updated: March 15, 2021 11:06:18 pm
Batla House encounterAriz Khan was arrested from Nepal in 2018. (File photo)

A Delhi court on Monday awarded the death penalty to Ariz Khan, a convict in the 2008 Batla House encounter case, in which Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of the Delhi Police Special Cell was killed.

Ariz, who was convicted earlier this month, was sentenced to death by Additional Sessions Judge (Saket courts) Sandeep Yadav after the prosecution argued that he was a “menace to the society and would continue to be so, threatening its peaceful and harmonious coexistence”.

In his order, ASJ Yadav wrote: “The offence proved against accused is not an ordinary act but a crime against the State. Convict, while committing offence acted like a dreaded and well trained terrorist who does not deserve any leniency.”

On account of his “despicable act [Ariz] has forfeited his right to live”, the court said.

“After balancing mitigating circumstances against aggravating circumstances, it is concluded that it is rarest of the rare case where convict deserves maximum sentence provided under the law. It is the level of magnitude, degree of brutality, attitude and mindset of wrong doer behind the crime along with other factors which makes it a rarest of the rare case,” the court said in its judgment.

“Protection of society and deterring criminal is an avowed object of law and this is required to be achieved by imprisonment of appropriate sentence. The most appropriate sentence for a convict like Ariz Khan will be death penalty. Interest of justice will be met if convict is awarded earth penalty,” it said.

The court weighed the possibility of reform of the convict, and whether he continued to be a threat to society.

On the first question, it said: “It has been proved on record that convict after the shoot-out managed to escape and…eluded investigating agencies for almost ten years… Convict was declared proclaimed offender way back in the year 2009 and was ultimately arrested in 2018. There is no evidence on record that convict during investigation or trial showed any signs of reformation or repentance. Thus, the natural and inescapable conclusion is that there is no chance of reformation of convict.”

On the second question, the court said: “The abhorrent and brutal act of convict in firing on police party without any provocation itself shows that convict is not only the threat to the society but is also an enemy of the state. Involvement of convict in various blast cases indicted not only in Delhi but also in Jaipur, Ahmedabad and UP in which hundreds of innocent people were killed and injured further demonstrates that convict continues to be a threat to the society and the nation.”

Noting that Inspector Sharma’s family was under mental distress following his death, the court ordered that out of the Rs-11 lakh penalty imposed on the convict, Rs 10 lakh should be released as compensation to Sharma’s wife. The court recommended to the District Legal Service Authority, Delhi (South) that adequate and suitable compensation should be awarded to the legal heirs/dependents of Inspector Sharma.

Ariz can appeal against the judgment and sentence within 30 days. The death penalty reference has been sent to Delhi High Court, where it must be confirmed before the sentence can be executed.

Additional Public Prosecutor A T Ansari told the court that this was a case of a gruesome murder of a law enforcement officer and defender of justice discharging his lawful public duty; therefore, a serious exercise was required to be undertaken to determine the quantum of punishment.

Ariz’s lawyer M S Khan had pleaded for a life sentence.

Convicting Ariz on March 8, the court had observed that he was a “trained criminal” and not “an ordinary individual” and that he “intentionally and knowingly committed murder” of Inspector Sharma during the encounter.

Ariz, who was on the run for a decade before he was arrested by the Delhi Police Special Cell in 2018, was convicted under IPC sections including 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 333 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt to deter public servant in the discharge of his duty), 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), and sections of the Arms Act.

On September 19, 2008, six days after the serial bombings that killed 39 people and injured 159 in Delhi, Inspector Sharma led a raid on a building in Batla House in the capital’s Jamia Nagar area, looking for the alleged Indian Mujahideen terrorists who had carried out the attacks.

The police team came under fire from inside the house, in which Inspector Sharma was killed. Two of the accused sustained fatal bullet injuries, while two others managed to escape.

One of those who escaped, Shahzad Ahmad, was arrested in 2010, and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2013.

Ariz is on trial in six other cases that are pending against him in Delhi. His lawyer, M S Khan, told The Indian Express that these cases are related to the Delhi bomb blasts; besides, there is an NIA case on the larger conspiracy. Several other cases have been filed against him in multiple states, for which he is yet to be arrested.

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