The Supreme Court today suspended the death sentence given to Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab in the 26/11 Mumbai attack case,saying it would like to hear his plea challenging capital punishment at length as due process of law has to be followed,even though many feel that the appeal should be outrightly rejected.
However,as soon as the hearing began,Justice Aftab Alam told amicus curie Raju Ramachandran — who is assisting the court in the case — Mr Ramachandran,does your man deserve further appeal? Many think he does not deserve any further indulgence… Our court system may not be perfect but God knows that we do our best to give justice to one and all. That we do indeed believe in due process and sometimes we ourselves suffer from it.
While staying Kasab’s death sentence and agreeing to deal with the appeal expeditiously,a special Bench of justices Aftab Alam and C K Prasad also permitted Kasab to amend his Special Leave Petition and furnish additional grounds to challenge the sentence awarded to him by the special court and confirmed by the Bombay High Court.
The apex court said the final hearing on Kasab’s appeal would be on January 31. It also directed the Maharashtra government and amicus curie Raju Ramachandran to complete all arguments before November 30.
While staying the execution,the Bench also complimented senior counsel and amicus curie Raju Ramachandran for taking up the 2008 terror attack case and agreeing to assist the court.
In our country many people are of the view that the appeal should be rejected (outrightly) and should not be heard at all but we are happy that you have decided to assist the court as amicus, the Bench told Ramachandran.
It said it would like to hear the matter at length as the rule of law is supreme in the country and the due process of law has to be observed.
Agreeing with the Bench’s view,former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam,appearing for the Maharashtra government,said despite the magnitude of the terror attack,the due process of law has to be maintained and the matter needed to be dealt with expeditiously.
He submitted that all documentation and translation work relating to the trial court and the High Court have been completed and as such the apex court may deal with the appeal in an expeditious manner.
The court agreed that it would deal with the appeal in an expeditious manner.
Kasab,the sole convict in the case who has been lodged in Arthur Road prison in Mumbai,has moved the Special Leave Petition through jail authorities. He has challenged his conviction and death sentence in the terror attack case. The apex court has appointed Ramachandaran as amicus curie to assist it in deciding his appeal.
Twenty-four-year-old Kasab along with nine other Pakistani terrorists had landed at Budhwar Park in south Mumbai on November 26,2008 night from Karachi by sea and had gone on a shooting spree at various city landmarks,leaving 166 people dead and many more wounded.
While Kasab was captured,the other terrorists in the group were killed during the attack. He was sentenced to death by a special anti-terror court on May 6 last year.
The Bombay High Court had in its February 21 verdict upheld the trial court order of death sentence to Kasab for the brutal and diabolical attacks aimed at destabilising the government.
Kasab’s death penalty was upheld on charges of criminal conspiracy,waging war against the nation and various other provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The High Court had upheld Kasab’s conviction on 19 counts under the IPC,Arms Act,Explosives Act,Explosive Substances Act,the Foreigners Act,the Passport Act and the Railway Act.
On September 2,the Apex Court had agreed to hear the plea of the Maharashtra government against the acquittal of two accused Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed in the 26/11 case.
It,however,had refused to pass any order on Kasab when the state government pleaded that his letter to the Supreme Court challenging his death sentence should be tagged with this appeal.
We are taking a step regarding this (Kasab’s letter),” the Bench had said.
On Monday,however,the apex court said it will hear the plea on the two acquittals and Kasab’s plea together this Friday.