New Delhi: Three years ago, Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab and his accomplices created mayhem in Mumbai and killed 166 innocent people. The lone captured terrorist of the 26/11 attack has since been enjoying Indian ‘hospitality’ at Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail with the government spending Rs16 crore on the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant.
The Supreme Court will hear some ‘interesting’ arguments in favor of Kasab who was awarded the death penalty on five counts. Earlier this year, Kasab filed an appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the death sentence awarded to him.
Noted lawyer Raju Ramachandran who will defend Kasab in the hearing scheduled to begin on January 29, 2012, refused to comment. “I am merely responding to the call of professional duty,” he said. Ramachandran’s junior Gaurav Aggarwal has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court (a copy of which is with DNA) in defence of Kasab.
On of the major arguments that will be made to defend Kasab is that contrary to the charge, he did not wage war against India. The argument is that unlike Parliament and the Red Fort, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) in Mumbai where Kasab and his accomplice Abu Ismail fired indiscriminately at innocents is not the symbol of authority of the Republic of India.
CST is owned by the railway ministry — an instrument of the Union government. Attacking a railway station or a hospital (Cama) does not amount to waging war against the government of India is the defence.
DNA has learnt that Ramachandran will also question the test identification parade (TIP) by the investigating agencies of a blood-soaked Kasab following the attack. Kasab’s photographs and visuals were flashed across the print and electronic media after the 26/11 attack and he was painted as the culprit. The argument of Kasab’s legal team is that no legally valid TIP was done to check the veracity of allegations that it was indeed Kasab and his accomplices who had attacked places such as CST and Cama hospital.
Aggarwal’s appeal also seeks to point out that a ‘foreigner’ like Kasab cannot be expected to know the law of the country. Sources said Kasab was forced to make a confession before a magistrate without being offered the services of a lawyer.
Though he retracted his statement during the trial, he was awarded the death penalty for waging war against India.
“The courts, however, ignored the fact that Kasab did not know the gravity of the confession he made to the magistrate,” a source said.
“Therefore, the conviction based on Kasab’s questionable confession is illegal by law and by retracting his statement, Kasab vitiated the trial.”
Ramchandran is expected to take six days to complete his arguments while former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium could take a bit longer to prove that Kasab is not innocent. A two-judge bench of justices Aftab Alam and CK Prasad will hear Kasab’s appeal from January 29, 2012.
“If everything goes according to the case calendar, the Supreme Court could pronounce its verdict around the beginning of April,” a source said.
Kasab who is facing the death penalty on five counts has used all possible ploys to extract the most out of the liberal humanitarian aspects of the Indian Constitution and the legal system. He had earlier said he was a teenager and a foreign national who was tutored by a terror group and did not deserve the death penalty awarded by a foreign court.
He also wrote to the chief justice of India from the Arthur Road jail, seeking suspension of the capital sentence. In his letter, Kasab also expressed his inability to hire a lawyer to defend him. Taking note of the letter, the Supreme Court stayed Kasab’s execution and urged Ramachandran to prepare Kasab’s defence and file a proper special leave petition.
Ramachandran’s legal acumen is well known as he was a lawyer for the Volcker Commission inquiry panel that probed into allegations against former Supreme Court judge V Ramasami.
He also assisted the Supreme Court in the 2002 Gujarat riots cases and his recent report suggested prima facie evidence against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the murder case of Congress MP Ehsan Jaffri.