Death penalty for Murder; instigating a child’s suicide; treason; acts of terrorism; a second conviction for drug trafficking. For more information see Capital punishment in India

1993 Mumbai Blasts: Supreme Court Stays Execution Of Death Row Convict

NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the execution of death row convict Tahir Merchant in the sensational 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

The top court sought a response from the CBI in six weeks and called for the case records from the special TADA court in Mumbai, which had awarded death sentence to Merchant, Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan and life imprisonment to gangster Abu Salem.

Merchant was convicted among others in the second stage of trial in the case as he was absconding.

As many as 257 people were killed and 718 suffered grievous injuries, with some of them suffering disabilities, were killed in the serial blasts at 12 places in Mumbai on March 12, 1993.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Ashok Bhushan and M M Shantanagoudar issued notice to the CBI and directed the registry to call for the lower court’s records.

“The State of Maharashtra is directed to compile the evidence in entirety and file the compilation in convenient volumes and also serve a copy thereof to the counsel for the appellant (Merchant),” it said.While staying the execution of the death sentence awarded to Merchant, the bench listed the matter for further hearing on March 14 next year.

 Merchant had challenged the September 7 order of the special TADA court which had held that he was among the main conspirators.

“The evidence proves the anguish, agitation and frustration expressed by Tahir due to situation prevailing in Bombay during the period of riots in January 1993,” it had noted.

He worked with (absconding conspirator) Tiger Memon and had participated in several conspiracy meetings in Dubai.

Tahir made travel arrangements, financed the stay and travel of several co-accused and facilitated their training in Pakistan, the court had noted.

“The role of Tahir in conspiracy is prominent. He is one of the initiators of the conspiracy,” the court had said in its ruling on June 16.

On Tahir’s role, the court had observed that he was absconding and, by remaining in Dubai, he has deprived the investigating agency of necessary assistance to investigate the case.

Salem had escaped the noose and was handed down life imprisonment due to a provision in the Extradition Act.

Besides Salem, the court had sentenced Karimullah Khan to life imprisonment, while awarding 10 years in jail to the fifth convict, Riyaz Siddiqui.

The court had referred to the worldwide scenario and the menace of terrorism and said it was pertinent that a case relating to terrorism cannot be treated at par with other offences.

It had also imposed a fine on the five accused totalling Rs. 27.09 lakh. Firoz Khan was fined Rs. 4.75 lakh, Karimullah Khan Rs. 8.88 lakh, Tahir Merchant Rs. 4.85 lakh, Abu Salem Rs. 8.51 lakh and Riyaz Siddiqui Rs. 10,000.

The court had in June convicted six persons, including prime accused Mustafa Dossa and Salem, 24 years after the blasts had left 257 people dead. It, however, let off accused Abdul Quayyum for want of evidence.

Salem, a notorious gangster considered close to fugitive mob boss Dawood Ibrahim, escaped death sentence as the Extradition Act bars India from seeking capital punishment for an accused extradited from a country where the practice is not in force.

Before Salem’s extradition in 2004 following his arrest in 2002 in Portugal, India had assured Lisbon that he would not be awarded capital punishment if convicted.

All the seven accused faced multiple charges including criminal conspiracy, waging war against the government and murder.

The trial court, in its June 16 ruling convicting the six accused, had held that the prosecution had proved that Salem was one of the key conspirators and had delivered three AK-56 rifles and ammunition and hand grenades to actor Sanjay Dutt, who was convicted under the Arms Act in the earlier phase of the trial.

Salem, who was close to Dawood Ibrahim’s brother Anees Ibrahim and Dossa, took upon of himself to bring a part of arms and ammunition from Dighi to Mumbai, the court had said.

The trial of Abu Salem, Mustafa Dossa, Karimullah Khan, Firoz Abdul Rashid Khan, Riyaz Siddiqui, Tahir Merchant and Abdul Quayyum was separated from the main case as they were arrested after the first set of trial had already started.

Dossa had died of cardiac arrest at J J Hospital in Mumbai, shortly after being convicted.


Bangladesh mutiny case: 139 soldiers to face gallows

Dhaka, Bangladesh – In what observers have dubbed Bangladesh’s “biggest-ever criminal case”, 139 mutineers of a defunct paramilitary force were sent to gallows by the country’s High Court (HC) on Monday.

Life sentences for another 146 people were also upheld by the court in the capital Dhaka. The mass convictions have been criticised by rights groups and the families, who say the trial was rife with procedural flaws and torture allegations.

At least 57 army officers and 17 civilians were killed during a mutiny in 2009 that the three-judge HC bench called “the most heinous, brutal and barbaric carnage” in Bangladesh’s history.

For the family members of those killed, the verdict seems to have brought closure.

Syed Md Ismail Parvez, brother of Major Idris Iqbal who was killed on that day, told Al Jazeera that they “are happy” and want “the immediate execution of the perpetrators who had killed his brother and others.

“This will not bring my brother back. But at least it will let us know that justice is there to hold them accountable for what they did.”

But one of the main defence lawyers, Aminul Islam, called the verdict “too harsh” and based on “flimsy or no evidence”. He said he would appeal against the HC judgement in the Supreme Court.

‘Violation of human rights’

Relatives of many of the convicted paramilitary officials have raised questions on the impartiality of the trial, while rights groups have termed the whole trial process a “violation of human rights”.

At least 47 suspects died while in police custody during the nine-year period of the trial.

Nargis Nasir, wife of one of the death row convicts – Nasir Uddin Khan, Deputy Assistant Director of the erstwhile BDR, said, “It’s anything but a justice for us.”

She said her husband was tortured and “forced to give confessional statement on the crime that he didn’t commit”.

“Since then, for the last nine years, our family is struggling to accept the fact that an innocent man was victimised for a crime of which he was no part.”

Brad Adams, Asia director of HRW, said the convictions were obtained after “unfair trials”.

“We interviewed many people who were badly tortured.… The courts and police should have investigated this but have failed to do so,” he said.

“We have always called for the perpetrators to be held accountable, but in many cases there was no credible evidence against the specific individual charged.

“It is not acceptable to convict individuals for the crimes committed by others, or simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

A legal expert, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the trials probably were not of “international legal standards” and avoided considering “valid arguments” presented by the defence lawyers.

But Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told Al Jazeera that the HC bench delivered the verdict “after a thorough and careful investigation.

“Awarding death penalty even to an individual is not easy one. Here it was given to 139 people,” the government lawyer said. “The High Court considered everything before giving that verdict.”

Outside forces?

On February 25-26 in 2009, indignant members of the erstwhile Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), later renamed Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), revolted against senior officers.

It initially appeared to be a few disgruntled Jawans (or soldiers) taking up arms against the deputed army officers in high positions of BDR, for better financial and working conditions, but later found to be a calculated massacre.

Among those killed was the then BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed and his wife. The remains of those massacred were dumped in sewers or buried in shallow graves.

Many theories have been doing the rounds about the nature of the mutiny and the real motives of the alleged perpetrators.

The most prominent of those theories suggested the involvement of “outside forces”. The HC observations running in about thousand pages said: “There was a plot both from internal and external sides behind the BDR carnage, to uproot [Prime Minister] Sheikh Hasina-led government which came into power in 2008.”

There is a need for digging deeper to unearth who was supposed to be the maximum beneficiary of such carnage.


Lt General (retired) Mainul Islam, who took over as the first Director General (DG) of the BGB right after the mutiny, however, told Al Jazeera he “had not found any evidence” of outside involvement.

According to him, the underlying reason behind the mutiny was the “prevailing discrimination between the army officials deputed in BDR and the BDR Jawans”.

The question that befuddled many during that time, as well as now, is why the intelligence unit failed to get a sense of what might happen on the morning of February 25, 2009, even though there were many suspicious activities that should have raised red flags.

The HC bench, in one of its recommendations, had called for investigating the failure of the intelligence unit in the purview of the carnage.

Critics and opposition leaders have called for an independent investigation into the incident.

Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, secretary general of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) said the killing of 57 top army officials in such a short span of time raises a lot of doubts.

“And it happened right after a new government came into power,” he said. He said a probe needs to be conducted to find out whether it was “simply a ploy against a new government or against the whole nation.

“There is a need for digging deeper to unearth who was supposed to be the maximum beneficiary of such carnage.”

Can HC review Prez decision to reject mercy petition of death row convict?

November 29, 2017

Can a high court review President’s decision rejecting mercy petition of a person awarded death penalty by the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice on the Centre’s petition challenging a Delhi High Court verdict commuting death sentence of Sonu Sardar, who was given capital punishment by the top court. The President had dismissed his mercy plea under Article 72 of the Constitution.Sonu Sardar was convicted of killing five members of a scrap dealer’s family in Chhattisgarh in November 2004 and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction and the sentence.However, after a petition challenged the President’s dismissal of his mercy petition, a Division Bench of Delhi High Court commuted Sardar’s death sentence to Life Imprisonment last June. A Bench of Justices GS Sistani and Vinod Goel of the Delhi High Court had allowed Sardar’s petition seeking quashing of orders passed by the President and Chhattisgarh Governor rejecting his mercy plea, and commuted the death penalty to life imprisonment citing delay and improper exercise of power as grounds. “The question which would arise for consideration is as to whether a High Court would have jurisdiction at all, to entertain a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution to review the decision of the President of India under Article 72 of the Constitution in regard to a matter where the Supreme Court of India had finally confirmed the death sentence,” the Centre said in its petition to the Supreme Court.
The Centre wondered if a high court could reverse a decision taken by both the Supreme Court and the President, both of who concluded that the circumstances of the case required death sentence for the convict.

More than 50 convicts on death row in Maharashtra

November  29,  2017

With three more persons getting capital punishment in the sensational Kopardi rape and murder case, the list of convicted criminals facing the noose has swelled up in Maharashtra, with over 50 on the death row.

A special fast track court on Wednesday in Ahmednagar sentenced Jitendra alias Pappu Babulal Shinde Santosh Gorkha Bhawal and Nitin Gopinath Bhailume to death for the July 13 , 2016, rape and murder of a minor girl in Kopardi.

Some months ago, two former aides of Karachi-based underworld don Dawood Ibrahim received the death sentence in the March 12, 1993, serial blasts case.

Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Kasab and Mumbai resident Yakub Memon are the two persons from Maharashtra, who have been hanged to death in the last two decades.

Kasab was among the group of 10 Pakistanis and the only one caught alive during the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai. His clemency plea was rejected by the President. He was hanged to death at the Yerawada jail in Pune on November 21, 2012.

Yakub Memon, who played a key role in the March 12, 1993, serial blasts in Mumbai, was hanged to death in the Nagpur prison on July 30, 2015.

According to prison statistics 2014, brought out by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there are a total of 318 people, including eight women, on the death row across the country, of which 36, including three, are from Maharashtra.

However, between 2015-17, capital punishments have been given to convicts, which include the accused in the Shakti Mill rape incidents and the 7/11 serial train bombings.

In April 2014, three youths- Vijay Jadhav, Mohammad Qasim Shaikh and Salim Ansari – were sentenced to death for repeating the crime. They were involved in the rape of a photojournalist and telephone operator at the Shakti Mill.

In September 2015, a trial court in Mumbai sentenced five people to death in the 7/11 train blasts case. They are Kamal Ansari, Faisal Shaikh, Estesham Siddiqui, Naveed Khan and Asif Bashir Khan.

Among others on the death row in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra are three Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives, including a 43-year-old mother of two, who were awarded the capital punishment for their involvement in the August 25, 2003, explosions at Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazar.

These convicts are Ashrat Ansari, his aide Hanif Sayed Anees and Hanif’s wife Fehmida Sayed. They, too, have appealed in the Supreme Court.

In the Anjanabai Gavit case, which involves a series of kidnappings and murders, two sisters Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit, too, are facing the capital punishment. The duo has been accused of kidnapping and killing a dozen children in the ’90s in Kolhapur, Pune and Nashik.

Four years ago, the Bombay High Court confirmed the death penalty of Purushottam Borate and Pradeep Kokade, who were convicted of kidnapping, raping and murdering a 22-year-old BPO employee Jyotikumari Chaudhary in Pune in 2007.

Death Penalty for rape in Madhya Pradesh

November 27,  2017

The Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Bhopal on Sunday, also passed a resolution that awards the death sentence to gang rape convicts.

The moves comes in the wake of rape incidents recently. “The Cabinet chaired by Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan okayed the recommendation to hand down capital punishment for rape of girls aged 12 years or below,” MP Finance Minister Jayant Malaiya said.

“We are going to present a bill to this effect in the winter session of the assembly beginning tomorrow,” he said. He said the Cabinet also decided to give harsher punishment to those guilty of molesting, stalking and harassing women. Now, a fine of Rs 1 lakh will also be imposed on such offenders, he added.

Once cleared by the assembly, the bill for capital punishment for rape of girls aged 12 or below will be sent to the Centre which will send it to the President for his approval.

India: Law panel drafts paper, favours abolition of death penalty

The Law Commission is set to recommend abolition of death penalty in India except for terror convicts, media reports said on Friday, a move rights activists say is long overdue in the country.
India is one of 59 countries in the world where capital punishment is still awarded and activists have been demanding its abolition, saying death penalty had no place in civilised society.
The issue had generated intense debate before and after the hanging in July of Yakub Memon, the sole Mumbai blasts convict to be executed.
A 272-page draft report of the Law Commission was in favour of speedy abolition of the death penalty from the statute books, except in cases where the accused is convicted of involvement in a terror case, the Indian Express reported.
The Law Commission had recommended retention of death penalty in 1962.
“The Commission suggests that the death penalty be immediately abolished for all crimes other than terror offences. At the same time, for terror offences a moratorium as regards sentencing and execution be immediately put in place. This moratorium can be reviewed after a reasonable period,” the report quoted the draft as saying.
The panel also hoped that the “movement towards absolute abolition will be swift and irreversible”.
The commission, headed by justice (retd) AP Shah, is likely to submit its report next week to the Supreme Court which had asked the panel to study the issue.
A copy of the report will also be handed over to the Union law minister as any call on changes in penal provisions has to be taken by Parliament.
The panel’s term expires on August 31. According to the report, the commission is of the view that death penalty has not served its intended purpose of acting as a deterrent to crimes or criminals.
“The quest for retribution as a penal justification cannot descend into cries for vengeance,” the draft paper said.
The panel had held wide-ranging discussions with many different sections including political parties.
Former president late APJ Abdul Kalam is among the people who had earlier supported abolishing death penalty while responding to a consultation paper of the Law Commission.
Ahead of Yakub Memon’s hanging after a dramatic late-night rejection of his final mercy, a group of activists had written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking a stay on his execution.
Source: Hindustan Times, August 28, 2015


Death Penalty for Heinous Crime Not Barbaric, Says Supreme Court

NEW DELHI:  In the wake of the debate over the death penalty following the execution of Mumbai attack convict Yakub Memon, the Supreme Court has said capital punishment is not inhuman or barbaric and will not violate the right to life and liberty in heinous crimes.

The observation came on Friday from a three-judge bench which was hearing the appeal from a murder case convict who has been given the death sentence.

Vikram Singh, who had been convicted for abducting and killing a 16-year-old, had challenged his death sentence, arguing that capital punishment is applicable only to terrorists.

The bench of Justices TS Thakur, RK Agrawal and AK Goel said, “A sentence of death in a case of murder may be rare, but if the courts have found it is the only sentence that can be awarded, it is difficult to revisit that question…”

What was important, the top court said, was that the punishment should be should be proportionate to the crime.

“Death penalty in a case of kidnapping or abduction will not qualify to be described as barbaric or inhuman so as to infringe the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution,” the court said.

While death penalty is awarded in the rarest of the rare cases, the last few persons to be executed were people convicted on terror charges – Afzal Guru, who was convicted in the 2001 Parliament attack case and Ajamal Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist caught for the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

But it was Yakub Memon’s execution that not only triggered questions from the civil society about his punishment, but also on the larger debate on death penalty.

Vikram Singh had been arrested for the abduction and murder of school student Abhi Verma in 2005.

He was awarded the death sentence by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which was later confirmed by the Supreme Court.  He had challenged the death sentence given for the crime he was booked under – kidnapping for ransom (Section 364A).

Punishments under the section include death sentence, life imprisonment and a fine.