Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Court takes serious view of Kasab's conduct

Throwing courtroom decorum to the wind, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab spat in front of the video camera during the hearing of his confirmation case at the Bombay High Court on Tuesday. The lone surviving gunman of the 26/11 attacks, appeared before the court via video conferencing on a screen installed on a wall inside the court.

The misconduct took place in the pre-lunch session. Kasab had been restless and fidgety since morning. In the absence of audio, he was seen arguing with the jail guards time and again and appeared to be giving them a difficult time with what the court described as “unruly” behaviour. During one such squabble, he spat in contempt.

When Justice Ranjana Desai enquired about his conduct with the jail authorities, sub inspector Kakde said, “The accused is creating a scene [nautanki]. He is repeatedly saying he wants to talk to the judge.”

The court took a serious view of the incident and ruled out the possibility of allowing Kasab to be present in court. Ms. Desai held, “We are informed by officers of the Arthur Road jail that he is violent. He is being unruly. There is no requirement in law that he be present in court. It's just a matter of practice and we have provided him with all the facilities to follow the proceedings. He cannot have his way by spitting on people. We treat him like any other accused. After making such meticulous arrangements, if he is going to behave like this [it is unacceptable].”

The court told the accused not to trouble the police and follow the proceedings. Asked if he had any grievance, Kasab angrily answered, “Why am I not being updated on what's happening outside? Send me to the U.S. Why have charges been framed against me?”

Kasab's spitting drew criticism from his own lawyer. Appealing the court to hear out Kasab, defence counsel Amin Solkar said, “I will not tolerate contempt of this honourable court.”

The court ordered that Kasab would be produced before the video camera only if he wishes to see the proceedings. Else, he would be confined to his cell. Ms. Desai asked Mr. Solkar to impress upon his client the impossibility of him being produced in person.

Outside the court, Mr. Solkar told reporters that solitary confinement had taken a toll on Kasab. “The last time we met, he said he wanted to meet other prisoners who have been given the death penalty.”


On Tuesday, public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam presented the evidence and witness testimonies of the attacks at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Cama hospital. He sought to show how the testimonies corroborated with each other and with documentary evidence.

He termed “erroneous” the trial court's view that many witnesses were likely to have seen Kasab's photographs in the media prior to the identification parade.

“There is no basis for this inference,” Mr. Nikam said.

As regards the lower court not attaching much importance to the CCTV footage at CST owing to its poor quality, Mr. Nikam said, “The learned judge failed to follow the importance of documentary evidence and its corroborative [function].”

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