The Supreme Court Wednesday reserved its verdict on the hearing of a petition filed by 2008 Mumbai terror attack convict and Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab challenging the Bombay High Court verdict upholding his death sentence.
The high court had upheld Kasab’s death sentence Feb 21, 2011.
Kasab was awarded the death sentence by a Mumbai trial court May 6, 2010. Besides other charges, he was convicted of waging war against the nation.
An apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice C.K. Prasad reserved the verdict on the conclusion of arguments that spread over nearly three months, starting Jan 31.
After completing the hearing on Kasab’s plea challenging his death sentence, the court will now hear the Maharashtra government’s plea challenging the acquittal of co-accused Fahim Harshad Mohammad Yusuf Ansari and Sabauddin Shaikh. The two were accused of providing topographical details to the Mumbai attackers.
Kasab contended that he was denied a fair trial as he was not provided legal assistance as mandated under in terms of Article 22 (1) of the Indian constitution.
Senior counsel and amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran, who appeared for Kasab, told the court that “denial of right to counsel at the earliest stage and denial of right to protection against self-incrimination” together vitiated a fair trial.
Defending Kasab, Ramachandran told the court that “if he had the lawyers’ assistance right from the beginning, one wonders if a confessional statement would have been made”.
Countering Kasab’s contentions, senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, who appeared for the Maharashtra government, said that the Mumbai attack was an “attempt to wage war against the country and its people and not just the government”.
He told the court that Mumbai terror attack was a “thought out operation that was planned over years and preparations for which were made at multiple places”. The attackers “knew that they have come to wage a war against India”.
Subramanium contested the argument that Kasab was not given legal aid saying that “legal aid was provided to him right from the word go”.
In the Mumbai terror attack, Kasab was one of 10 Pakistanis who illegally sailed into India and launched the Nov 26-29 mayhem that killed 166 people, including many foreigners.
Kasab and his nine associates who had sailed from Karachi reached Mumbai after they hijacked private Indian ship M.B. Kuber and killed its navigator Amar Chand Solanki.