New Delhi, Aug 29 (IBNS): India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence of Ajmal Amir Kasab, rejecting a plea by the lone surviving terrorist of the 2008 Mumbai attacks to commute the capital punishment.
Observing that the primary and foremost offence that Kasab was charged with was waging war against India, the apex court bench comprising of justice Aftab Alam and justice CK Prasad passed the verdict saying, “We are left with no option, but to uphold the sentence."
Kasab wanted his death sentence pronounced by a trial court to be reversed.
Following the verdict Kasab can now file a review petition in the Supreme Court within the next 30 days which will be examined by the same bench, on the rejection of which a curative petition can be filed, which will be examined by a different bench in the court.
If the curative petition is also dismissed, Kasab can appeal for clemency and file a mercy petition with the President Pranab Mukherjee, who reach a decision based on a reccomendation by the Union Home Ministry.
Kasab had appealed to the Bombay High Court first which upheld the trial court order in October last year and now the Supreme Court also upheld the trial court order of May 2010.
The court had earlier reserved the order after hearing the arguments of both the prosecution and defence counsels for more than two-and-a-half months.
After the verdict, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said the verdict is an important one.
"I am very satisfied that for the first time we proved in a court of law that Kasab and his nine associates had been sponsored by Pakistan. Pakistan's army and terror outfit Lashkar were behind it," Nikam said.
"Pakistan encourages terrorism and now if the country is serious about curbing it it should also act against those who were behind Kasab," he said.
In his judgement Justice Prasad said, "I am more than certain that the planning and conspiracy to commit the crime were hatched in Pakistan, the perpetrators of crime were Pakistani trained at different centres in that country, and the devastation which took place at various places in the city of Mumbai, were executed by the appellant in furtherance thereof."
Kasab argued that he was denied free and fair trial and he was not part of a larger conspiracy of engaging into a war against a nation.
Kasab had filed the appeal from the prison that challenged his conviction and death sentence.
Raju Ramachandran was appointed by the Supreme Court to represent Kasab as an amicus curiae.
After the judgement, Ramachandran said he "bows before the verdict of the Supreme Court."
He said he was given full opportunity to say what he wanted in defence of Kasab.
Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Wednesday said the government would see that if Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving Pakistani terrorist in 26/11 Mumbai attacks, files a mercy plea then it is disposed of in minimum time.
"In case Ajmal Kasab files a mercy plea then we will ensure that it is disposed of in minimum time," Shinde told reporters on Wednesday.
Indian External Affairs minister S M Krishna on Wednesday said Pakistan should take 'note' of the Supreme Court's decision that upheld the sentence of Kasab who had challenged the trial court verdict in the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai in the apex court.
"The Supreme Court is the highest court; whenever it pronounces its verdict it becomes the law of the land," Krishna told reporters in Tehran.
"I am sure Pakistan did not fail to take note of the verdict," he said.
Politicians across party lines on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court's decision on Kasab.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: "The terrorists had challenged the security and peace of the nation. If there were more stringent punishments then it should have been given to him (Kasab). There should not be any delay in execution of the verdict."
Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said: "The entire country knew or I should say every country knew the role of Kasab, who had come to this nation from Pakistan. We have our own legal procedures. The Supreme Court upheld the decision. Everything became clear today. The world realized the situation."
Welcoming the verdict, Union Home Secretary RK Singh said: "In our judicial system everyone has opportunity to go to the highest court in the land."
"Mercy petition has not been filed," he said while speakig on Kasab's mercy plea issue.
Kasab has been lodged in a Mumbai jail since being captured following the Mumbai terror attacks that left 166 people dead and over 300 injured.
He had been convicted and sentenced to death by a trial court court in Mumbai and later by the Bombay High Court in February last year.
Kasab was one of the ten Pakistan-based militants who launched coordinated strikes in vital places of India's financial capital including two luxury hotels, a hospital, a Jewish centre and a railway station on Nov 26, 2008.