Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Thursday decided to first hear arguments on confirmation of death sentence awarded to Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab for his role in
26/11 attacks and then proceed with his appeal against conviction and capital punishment.
Justices Ranjana Desai and RV More asked the Maharashtra government to open arguments on confirmation of death sentence awarded to Kasab for killing 166 persons in the dastardly terror attacks on November 26, 2008.
Arguments would begin on October 18 on confirmation of Kasab`s death sentence with the state`s counsel Ujjwal Nikam telling the court that he was ready to give submissions and that arrangements were made for video conference to enable Kasab hear the proceedings from the jail where he is lodged.
"Irrespective of the legal position on who should argue first -- the prosecution on confirmation of death sentence or the defence on Kasab`s appeal -- it is our duty to consider the evidence afresh. Keeping this in view, we are asking the state to begin first their arguments," the bench observed.
The judges also considered a statement made by defence lawyers Amin Solkar and Farhana Shah that Kasab had no objection to the state beginning arguments on confirmation of death sentence awarded to him.
The bench also took on record that a 1947 Bombay High Court judgement, cited by lawyer Farhana Shah in the case of Emperor versus Narayan Ramchandra Jarag, which stated that the state had to begin first on confirmation of death sentence awarded to convict and his appeal was to be heard later.
Government Counsel Ujjwal Nikam contended that Kasab`s lawyers had to argue first on his appeal against conviction and death sentence and only if it fails the matter regarding
confirmation of capital punishment would come up.
However, the judges observed that irrespective of the legal position on who should begin arguments first, the court would have to independently examine evidence all over again
and directed that confirmation of death sentence awarded to Kasab should be taken up first for arguments.
Nikam informed the Court that accused Sabauddin Ahmed who was acquitted in the 26/11 case had been produced before a sessions court in Mumbai yesterday and was arrested. Another accused Faheem Ansari, who was also let off in this case due
to "doubtful" evidence, was arrested earlier.
Both are now lodged in different jails in Mumbai. Earlier, they were in the custody of UP police in a terror-related case. They were brought to Mumbai after the Bombay High Court admitted the state`s appeal against their acquittal.
On May 6, Kasab was sentenced to death for killing 166 persons in the terror attacks. While he was captured alive by police, nine others who had participated in terror strikes,
were killed by security forces.