New Delhi: The Supreme Court has upheld death penalty for 26/11 Mumbai attacks convict Ajmal Kasab. Mohammed Ajmal Kasab is the lone Pakistani terrorist captured alive in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. He was sentenced to death for his role in the attacks that left 166 people dead by a special court in Mumbai on May 6, 2010.
While dismissing Kasab's petition that he was not given a fair trial in the 26/11 terror case by a Mumbai special court, the Supreme Court in its judgement observed that Kasab waged war against India and is charged with killing several people during the Mumbai terror attacks.
"Ajmal Kasab's act is very much an act of waging a war against India. We are left with no option but to uphold the death sentence of Kasab. The confessional statement of Kasab was very much voluntary," observed the two judge bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice CK Prasad while adding that not providing a counsel to Kasab by the government at pre-trial stage did not vitiate his trial in the case.
Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who was asked to defend Kasab, told Justice Alam and Justice Prasad that he was not a part of the larger conspiracy for waging a war against the nation.
Ramachandran had argued that the due process of law was not followed by the Mumbai special court while convicting Kasab, his right to be represented by a lawyer was violated by the Maharashtra government and even though the Pakistani terrorist was found guilty of killing people, he could not be held guilty of waging a war against India.
However, the Supreme Court dismissed all the arguments made by Kasab and upheld his death sentence.
Reacting to the verdict, Raju Ramachandran said, "I bow down to the apex court verdict."
Public prosecutor Gopal Subramaniam appreciated that the case was handled very well and said that India should feel proud. "The Supreme Court today dismissed appeal of Ajmal Kasab. The evidence was placed before the apex court by both the parties and the court had the chance to appreciate evidence from both parties. India must feel proud that it is democracy and every accused gets to represent his case."
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam welcomed the judgement and said that he was waiting for the day when Kasab would be hanged. "I'm satisfied that the punishment to Kasab stays. I welcome this important judgement," Nikam said.
He also said that though Kasab now had an option of a mercy petition with the President, the legal battle was now over. "The court has finally accepted all our contentions and denied all allegations levelled. The legal process is over. It's Kasab's choice now to opt for a mercy petition," Nikam said.
Reacting to the verdict, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said, "SC is highest court of appeal. When it announces a verdict, it becomes the law of the land. The other things will also follow and I am sure that even Pakistan will take note of the verdict."
Mumbai Police Joint CP Himanshu Roy said, "The SC verdict strengthens our fight against terrorism. The Mumbai Crime Branch is also investigating the role of Abu Jundal in 26/11. Th SC verdict further reveals the role of Lashkar-e-Toiba and Pakistan in exporting terror to India. This proves that the Mumbai Crime Branch investigation was professional and praiseworthy."
Kasab had challenged the sentence in the highest court of appeal early this year. The apex court that conducted a marathon hearing in the case for two months and reserved its verdict in the case in April, will pronounce whether it will be death for Kasab. In May 2010, a trial court had sentenced the Pakistani national to death, an order upheld by the Bombay High Court in October 2011.
Kasab, who was not represented by a counsel at the trial and the appealate stages in the Bombay High Court appealed to the Supreme Court that he was not given a free and fair trial in the case. In his appeal, he also said he was brainwashed into committing the crime in the name of 'God'. Kasab said he did not deserve capital punishment because of his young age.
Even as Kasab's legal battle has continued for the last four years, the cost of keeping him alive proved to be a burden on the state exchequer.
So far the cost of keeping Kasab in his cell has proved to be Rs 25 crore. The high security cell at Mumbai's Arthur Road jail costs Rs 5.25 crore. Rs 19 crore has been spent by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police for security. Salaries to the policemen protecting Kasab add up to Rs 1.23 crore.
Kasab's medical expenses have cost Rs 28,000 and his food came up to Rs 35,000.
Meanwhile, the court on upheld the acquittal of two Indian co-conspirators Fahim Harshad Mohammad Yusuf Ansari and Sabauddin Shaikh in the case. The court observed that the evidence shows that conspiracy behind the 26/11 strike was hatched in Pakistan.
(With additional information from PTI)
- Ajmal Kasab waged war against India: Supreme Court
- Pak should expedite 26/11 trial after SC verdict: Nikam
- Timeline: Ajmal Kasab's case in the 26/11 attacks