The 38 convicts in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts case deserve the death sentence as allowing them to remain in society is akin to releasing a “man-eater leopard” in public that consumes innocents without caring if they are children, youth, elderly, or the people from different caste and communities, the special court said in its order.
A copy of the judgement was made available on Saturday.
The special court on Friday sentenced to death 38 members of terror outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM) for the Ahmedabad bombings which killed 56 people and injured over 200 on July 26, 2008. It also gave life terms to another 11 IM convicts in the case.
It is for the first time in the country that the maximum number of death sentences were handed down by a court in one go.
“The convicts created unrest in a peaceful society and carried out anti-national activities while living here. They have no respect for the Constitutionally-elected government at the Centre and in Gujarat, and a few believe only in Allah and not in the government or the judiciary,” special judge A R Patel said in the order.
The court observed that there was no need for the government to keep the convicts in jail, especially those who said they believed only in their God and none others, and that there is no jail in the country that can keep them lodged forever.
“If such people are allowed to remain in the society, it will be like releasing a man-eater leopard in public. Such convicts are like a man-eater leopard that eats innocents in society including children, youth, elderly, women, men, newborns, and people of different caste and communities,” the judge noted.
The court also stated that in its opinion, the death sentence will be reasonable as the case falls in the “rarest of the rare” category.
The prosecution had sought the death sentence for all the 49 convicts in the blasts case including those who had hatched the conspiracy and those who planted bombs.
“For the people carrying out such terrorist activities, the death sentence is the only option, for the sake of peace and safety of the country and its people,” the court noted about the 38 convicts.
Handing down life sentences till the end of their natural life to 11 other convicts, the court said that their crime was less severe compared with the main conspirators.
“They took part in the conspiracy along with the main conspirators, and took part in terror training camps in jungles in Halol-Pavagadh in Gujarat, and Vaghmon in Kerala on their own accord, but their role in the crime does not involve death sentence.
“But then, if they get anything less than imprisonment till their last breath, then these convicts will again commit similar crimes and will help others, is also certain,” said the court.
Responding to arguments of some convicts that they were framed because they were Muslims, the court observed that it cannot accept this, because, in India, there are crores of Muslims who live as law-abiding citizens.
“Why did the investigating officers arrest only these people? Others should have been arrested had they also been involved in the case. Investigating officers are responsible people,” the court said.
The police had claimed that members of the IM, a radicalized faction of SIMI, were behind the blasts in Ahmedabad which were planned to avenge the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat that left more than 1,000 people, most of them from the Muslim community, dead.
While 38 people were convicted by the court under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 302 (murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) and provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 11 others were held guilty for criminal conspiracy and under various sections of the UAPA, the prosecution had said. The court imposed a fine of Rs 2.85 lakh on 48 convicts and Rs 2.88 lakh on another convict.
It also awarded compensation of Rs one lakh to the relative of those who died in the blasts, Rs 50,000 to those who were seriously injured and Rs 25,000 to those who received minor injuries.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)