The trial court record that ultimately resulted in the death penalty for Ajmal Qasab two days ago has set an example for the future — literally so, as the Supreme Court has recommended that judicial academies in the country include it in their curriculum to train judges in the conduct of criminal trials.
The ‘postscript’ of the 398-page Supreme Court judgement also contains a moving tribute to the judicial acumen of the then special judge ML Tahiliani.
The last paragraph of the judgement, delivered by a bench of justices Aftab Alam and CK Prasad, says, ‘The manner in which [Tahiliani] conducted the trial proceedings and maintained the record is exemplary. We seriously recommend that the trial court records of this case be included in the curriculum of the National Judicial Authority and the judicial authorities of the different states as a model for criminal trial proceedings.”
The Supreme Court added, “In the course of hearing of the appeal we also came to know the trial judge Shri Tahiliani. From the records of the case he appears to be a stern, no-nonsense person. But he is a true flagbearer of the rule of law in this country.” Tahiliani is currently a sitting Bombay High Court judge.
S Sashidharan, a judicial officer at National Judicial Academy, Bhopal, said, “Once we have a copy of the judgement we will place it before the director for consideration and implement whatever the Honourable Supreme Court requires.”
Judge Ganesh Deshmukh, an official at Maharashtra Judicial Academy, Bhayander, said, “We are yet to receive a certified copy of the judgement. However, I have read the online version and I am certain that it will be implemented as soon as the Bombay High Court directs us.”
Deshmukh added that Tahiliani has also commended the work of one of the academy’s former students who had recorded Qasab’s statement. “It was so well recorded that he couldn’t retract it later on,” he said.
Praise for cops
The judgement spoke at length on the heroic and inspiring conduct of the Mumbai police force and others who contributed evidence.
“In this case we came across heroes like Tukaram Ombale, Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar and Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who lost their lives in the fight against terrorism. We salute every policeman, every member of the security forces and others who laid down their lives saving others and helping to catch or neutralise the 10 terrorists.
We have great admiration for the courage and sense of duty shown by the policemen and the members of the security forces who received injuries in discharge of their duties and we extend our deepest sympathies to them for their injuries. We compliment all those who showed great presence of mind and professionalism and, caring little for their own safety, saved countless lives or photographed the terrorists on their killing spree, thus providing unimpeachable evidence for the court.
We mourn the death of 148 civilians, both Indians and foreign nationals, who fell victim to the orgy of terror unleashed on the city, and extend our heart-felt condolences to their families. We also extend our deepest sympathies to all the 238 people who suffered injuries at the hands of the terrorists. We also greatly complement the resilient spirit of Mumbai that, to all outward appearances, recovered from the blow very quickly and was back to business as usual in no time.”