Death is the only sentence that can be given: SC

Aug 30, 2012, 07:00 IST | Agencies

The Supreme Court yesterday upheld the death sentence of Ajmal Qasab, the only Pakistani terrorist caught alive after the 26/11 Mumbai strike that claimed 166 lives.

“We are constrained to hold that the death penalty is the only sentence that can be given in the circumstances of the case,” the apex court bench of Justices Aftab Alam and CK Prasad said.

The court rejected Qasab’s contention that the Mumbai terror attack was a war against the government of India and not against the Indian state or its people. The court said the government of India was only the elected organ of the state and the repository of the sovereign powers.

The apex court did not accept Qasab’s plea that not providing him a lawyer soon after his arrest vitiated the entire process, including his trial and consequent conviction and sentencing. The court said that a trial is vitiated if the accused is not provided with legal assistance but the same does not hold in the case of not providing legal assistance in pre-trial stage.

It also noted that efforts were made to provide Qasab a lawyer but he refused it every time, saying that he did not need an Indian lawyer. The court also rejected his plea that when he agreed to have legal assistance, his lawyer was not given sufficient time to prepare his defence.

The judgment said that the time given to Qasab’s lawyer was “sufficient”. The court also rejected Qasab’s plea that his confessional statement before the police was not voluntary. The judgment said, “Confession was very much voluntary.”

What they say
Nobody can raise a finger at the Indian legal system. (Qasab) was given a chance to defend. Many would not have liked this kind of timeline but at the end of the day (it will) give self-assurance that justice is finally being done
— Law Minister Salman Khurshid

In this country (India) court does its work. Everyone knows what Qasab has done...Law has taken its own course. Supreme Court has given the judgment and I hope it will be implemented soon.
— Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi

(Attack on Mumbai) was attack on India. We welcome the verdict.
— BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar

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