Kasab claims trial court's death penalty verdict flawed

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Feb 14 (IANS) Ajmal Kasab, the 2008 Mumbai terror attack convict and Pakistani terrorist, Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the reasoning by the trial court while awarding him death penalty was flawed.

Amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran, appearing for Kasab, asked the apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice C.K. Prasad to expressly reject the "pragmatic factors" that were allegedly factored in by the trial court in awarding death sentence to Kasab.

As amicus curiae slammed the trial court decision, Justice Alam said that neither of these considerations made sense to the court that if he was kept alive another Kandahar (the 1999 swapping of Pakistani terrorists with Indian hostages in Afghanistan) will take place and if he was awarded death sentence there could be reprisals.

"Our people, society and polity are more resilient, mature and made of strenuous stuff to reject such contentions," said Justice Alam.

"If one is afraid of such consideration then no right decision would ever be taken", he said.

"If court takes such positions then no verdict would ever be passed in matter which have community or emotive overtones," the court said.

The apex court inquired if the "expenses of keeping such a convict alive was for the legislature to decide and not for the court to take into consideration".

Ramachandran said that the cost of keeping the convict could not be factored in by the trial court.

The court was hearing an appeal by Kasab challenging the upholding of his death sentence by the Bombay High court Feb 21, 2011.

Kasab was one of 10 Pakistanis who illegally sailed into India from Pakistan and launched the Nov 26, 2008 mayhem in Mumbai killing 166 people, including many foreigners.

Ramachandran said the trial court, while awarding death sentence to Kasab, said that "we didn't want to have another Kandahar".

The amicus curiae said this reasoning by the trial judge was not expressly over-ruled by the high court.

Concluding his arguments, Ramachandran told the court that notwithstanding that Kasab was not given a fair trial, his death sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment.

The court was told that the choice before it was between life and "irrevocable and irreversible" death sentence.

Ramachandran also cited factors including Kasab's young age, his constant quarrel with his father as a youngster, dissatisfaction with the job he was doing in the shop and consequently his desire, which he confided to his friend, to became a dacoit and commit robbery to make a living as grounds for commuting his death sentence to life term.

The amicus curiae told the court that it was in this state of mind that Kasab came in contact with militant outfits and landed in the Mumbai attack.

He was awarded death sentence by a Mumbai trial court May 6, 2010. Besides other charges, he was convicted for waging war against India.

The Bombay High Court upheld the verdict. The apex court is hearing Kasab's appeal challenging the upholding of his death sentence by the Bombay High Court Feb 21, 2011.

The court will Wednesday hear senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the Maharashtra government, oppose Kasab's plea.