Seven-and-a-half months after the Rajasthan High Court had set aside the death sentence of Dr Abdul Hameed, the prime accused in the 1996 Samleti bus bomb blast case, the trial court in Bandikui in Dausa district once again confirmed the death sentence awarded to him in September 29 last year after considering the ‘mitigating circumstances’ projected by him.
“The convict, Dr Abdul Hameed, has been found guilty under Section 302 [murder] of IPC. The death sentence is to be carried out by hanging Dr Abdul Hameed with a rope around his neck till his death,” said the judgment by Additional District Judge, Bandikui, Alka Bansal.
On April 30 this year, the Jaipur bench of Rajasthan High Court had observed: “It has come to our notice that the trial court, while awarding death sentence to accused Dr Abdul Hameed, has not followed due procedure prescribed under Section 235 (2) of CrPC as interpreted by the apex court in various judgements. After delivery of the judgement, on the said day itself the trial court heard the accused on the question of sentence and passed the order of sentence awarding death sentence to Dr Abdul Hameed.”
It had also said that, “No opportunity was given to the accused to place relevant material before the trial court on the question of sentence. No opportunity was accorded to the accused Dr Abdul Hameed to project mitigating circumstances.” The high court bench of Justices Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia and Nisha Gupta had then set aside the sentence of Hameed, and had kept all the “questions and all the appeals alive and pending till the question of sentence qua accused Dr Abdul Hameed is decided.”
“We respect the court’s order but we will pursue the case in the high court and the apex court, if needed. In the Akshardham Temple attack case (2002), the death sentence was upheld by the high court but was overturned by the Supreme Court,” said advocate Asad Hyatt, who represented Hameed, along with advocate Mir Akhtar Hussain. “In this case, an appeal against conviction is pending in the high court and we will soon file an appeal against the sentencing as well in the high court,” he said. “Hameed, now aged over 50, has been in the jail for the past 20 years,” he said.
On September 29 last year, the Bandikui court had found six of the eight accused guilty of murder, damage to public property and violation of Explosives Act and one of them of conspiracy. Abdul Hameed, a resident of Firozabad in Uttar Pradesh, was sentenced to death and an indemnity of Rs 1 lakh was slapped on him.
Six others —Javed Khan (Srinagar), Abdul Ghani (Jammu), Latif Ahmed (Srinagar), Mohammad Ali Bhatt, Mirza Nisar Hussain and Rahish Baig from Agra — were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The accused, allegedly associated with Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, were found guilty of murder, conspiracy, damage to public property and violation of the Explosives Act.
The incident took place on May 22, 1996, when a bomb blast in a bus near Samleti village in Dausa on the Jaipur-Agra highway killed 14 people and injured 37 others. The bus was headed to Bikaner from Agra. The blast had followed Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar bomb blast, which took place a day before and had led to the death of 13 persons.
The charge-sheet had stated that the accused were associated with the J&K Liberation Front and some of them were also involved in the Sawai Man Singh Stadium blast of 1996. The current case was investigated by the Crime Investigation Department (Crime Branch).