New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence for Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab. The court rejected a plea by Kasab, the only terrorist caught alive during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, to commute the death sentence handed to him by the Bombay High Court, to a life imprisonment sentence.
Now, the only course left for Kasab is to appeal to the President of India for mercy. However, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said if Kasab filed a mercy plea, “We will ensure it is disposed of in minimum time”.
President Pranab Mukherjee has nearly 20 mercy petitions pending before him, including those of Afzal Guru, convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack, and the mercy petition of Balwant Singh Rajoana, the convicted killer of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh.
Kasab’s petition, if filed, would have to await its turn.
However, the President can fast-track a particular case, provided he is convinced of the extraordinary nature of the case.
Confirming the death sentence, Supreme Court stated the primary and foremost offence Kasab was charged with was waging war against India. “We are left with no option, but to uphold the sentence,” it said, adding it was “crystal clear the conspiracy was hatched by Pakistanis.”
Judges Aftab Alam and C K Prasad rejected the 25-year-old Kasab’s contention that he was not given a free and fair trial in the case.
Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, who defended Kasab in the apex court, said, “I bow to the verdict of the court. As amicus curiae, I was given an opportunity to advance every convincing argument I could,” he said.