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The decks were finally cleared Thursday in the Bombay High Court for the commencement from Oct 18 of the second phase of the legal case against Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab.

The Maharashtra government’s counsel Ujjwal Nikam, who appeared in the trial in the special court which awarded Kasab the death sentence May 6, will formally open the arguments seeking confirmation of that verdict before the high court later this month.

Special Judge M.L. Tahaliyani, who is now the principal sessions judge, awarded the capital punishment to the 22-year-old Pakistani gunman for his role in the Nov 26-29 Mumbai attack.

A division bench of Bombay High Court comprising Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice Ranjit More Thursday observed that keeping in view the evidence, the state would begin its arguments first.

Kasab’s lawyer, Farhana Shah, cited a high court judgment of 1947 which stated that the state must begin the arguments first in confirmation of a death sentence and then take up the appeal. This point was taken on record by the judges Thursday.

The division bench also considered a statement by the defence that Kasab had no objection to the state beginning arguments first on the confirmation of the death sentence verdict pronounced by the lower court.

State counsel Nikam informed the high court that Kasab’s co-accused Sabauddin Ahmed, who was acquitted in the terror attack case by the lower court, had been arrested by police and later produced before a Mumbai sessions court.

Another co-accused Faheem Ansari, who was also let off in the same case due to ‘doubtful’ evidence by the lower court, was arrested earlier.

Both are currently lodged in different jails in Mumbai.

The Mumbai terror attack left 160 people dead and over 300 injured. Nine out of 10 gunmen, barring Kasab, were killed by security forces during the anti-terror operation.

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