Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bombay HC turns into fortress for Kasab’s hearing

A thick security blanket has been thrown in and around the Bombay High Court which will hear from tomorrow the arguments on confirmation of death sentence awarded to Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab for his role in 26/11 attacks.

Kasab, who has challenged his conviction and sentence, is currently reading holy ‘Koran’ in a bomb and bullet proof cell at Central Prison which is guarded by a strong posse of Indo Tibetan Border Security (ITBS) men, sources told PTI.

The hearing, on a day-to-day basis, would begin in the court of Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice R V More where arrangements for video conference have been made so that Kasab is not brought from jail in view of threat perception to him.

At both the ends - in jail and in court - screens have been put up for the video conference in keeping with a court directive.

This is for the first time arguments would be held in the High Court through video conference in matter pertaining to confirmation of death sentence.

Unprecedented security measures have been taken in view of a circular issued by the Registrar General M. N. Gilani which bars lawyers, litigants, media and court staff from carrying cell phones in court 49, where the hearing is to begin.

As a precautionary measure, a pass system has been introduced at the entrances. Litigants will be asked to state their full name, age, identity, mobile number and lawyer’s name with telephone number.

The court staff has been warned not to move near Court 49 unless it is urgent.

Government Counsel Ujjwal Nikam would begin arguments tomorrow on the confirmation of death sentence imposed on Kasab. He is expected to dwell upon the evidence adduced by the prosecution against Kasab in the trial court.

Meanwhile, Kasab, who denied his role in 26/11 attacks, has filed an appeal claiming that the firing incident at Chhatrapati Shivaji Railway terminus and Cama hospital were isolated incidents and not related to the terror conspiracy.

The appeal would also be heard by the Court but the judges would first hear arguments on confirmation of Kasab’s death sentence and have asked Mr. Nikam to open his side tomorrow.

Defence lawyers Amin Solkar and Farhana Shah would later give their submissions on the confirmation of sentence and appeal.

Kasab’s lawyers have already met him in jail and sought instructions. “We will do our best to present his side,” said his lawyer Farhana Shah. Meanwhile, Mr. Solkar today returned from a foreign trip, just in time for the hearing.

Two accused in this case, Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, who were acquitted from conspiracy charges because of “doubtful evidence” have been arrested following warrants issued by the Court on an appeal filed by the Government.

Both were brought from Uttar Pradesh where they were lodged in separate jails in other terror-related cases.

Faheem has appointed R. B. Mokashi as his lawyer while Sabauddin has yet to appoint a lawyer.

The duo shall be produced in the High Court tomorrow, police said.

On May 6, Kasab was sentenced to death for killing 166 persons in the dastardly attacks in public places in Mumbai.

While he was captured alive on November 26, 2008, nine other Pakistani nationals were shot dead by security forces.

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