Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court today
upheld a Pota Court judgement in the Hasmukh Lalwala firing
case of 2002 in Surat in which two persons were convicted and
sentenced to seven year-imprisonment.
Mufti Tahir and Ashraf Nagori had appealed against
their conviction by a special Pota Court in August 2005.
A division bench of Justices Jayant Patel and Z K
Saiyed, which heard the appeal, upheld the conviction and the
Pota court`s conclusion that the firing on Lalwala, a lawyer
and BJP Corporator of Surat, was an act of terrorism.
The court observed that no religion preaches violence
or revenge. "All religions want people to live in peace and
harmony," the bench said.
Special Public Prosecutor J M Panchal said this was
the first appeal in a Pota case that has been disposed by the
Gujarat High Court. Appeals in several other Pota cases are
still pending with the High Court, he said.
According to case details, Lalwala was fired at by two
persons on May 21, 2002, in an act of revenge in the aftermath
of the communal riots in the state earlier that year.
Police identified the assailants as Ashraf Nagori and
Salim Variyava. While Nagori was arrested along with another
accused Mufti Tahir, who was charged with providing logistic
support, Variyava was still absconding.
Two other accused -- Ishaq Makrani alias Bomb and
Chikhligar -- died during pendency of the trial.
On August 4, 2005, Special Pota Judge Sonia Gokani
convicted Tahir and Nagori under the Prevention of Terrorism
Act (POTA) and sentenced them to seven years in jail.
The duo appealed against the judgement in the Gujarat
High Court later that year.