Verdict reserved on parliament attack convict’s fourth plea

April 22nd, 2008 - 8:16 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday reserved its verdict on the fourth appeal of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant Shaukat Hussain Guru, challenging his conviction for his role in the Dec 13, 2001 terror attack on the Indian parliament. A bench of Justices P.P. Naolekar and V.S. Sripurkar reserved the verdict after hearing arguments by the Delhi government’s counsel, Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramanian, and Guru’s counsel, former law minister Shanti Bhushan.

Guru, presently serving a 10-year term in Delhi’s Tihar Jail on the apex court orders, had moved the court late August last year contending that he was wrongly convicted by it on a new charge of concealing information for which he was never tried by the trial court.

Shaukat had been originally awarded capital punishment by the trial court with the Delhi High Court confirming the same but the apex court had reduced his sentence to a 10-year jail term.

The JeM militant had been originally ordered gallows following his conviction under the tough (now repealed) Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (Pota) and the various other penal offences of waging war against the state. The high court too had upheld his conviction on these charges.

But the apex court earlier, while deciding his petition challenging his conviction and death penalty, had acquitted him of the charges on which he had been convicted by the trial court.

The apex court convicted him instead on a new charge of concealing information from the police about the impending terror attack on the parliament complex and jailed him for 10 years.

Subramanian supported the apex court’s ruling that convicted Guru for concealing information had “no error.”

The government’s law officer contended that the charges of concealment of conspiracy under Section 123 of the Indian Penal Code was not an altogether new charge, but a charge which is also virtually covered under IPC’s sections 121, 121A and 122, related to various offences of waging war against the government.

He told the court that though Guru was not tried by the lower court on a separate charge of concealing information, he could be deemed to have been tried on this particular charge as well as he faced trial on similar charges.

Subramanian said the ruling had also listed out various evidence against Guru, which was sufficient for his conviction on the new charge.

Bhushan argued that the apex court act of convicting Guru on a new charge without his trial by the lower court on that particular charge was a violation of his fundamental right of life and liberty under Article 21 of the constitution.

Guru has already pleaded before the apex court thrice - once against the death sentence awarded to him by the trial court and the high court. Subsequently, he challenged twice his conviction by the apex court on a new charge through what is known as review petition and then through a curative petition, which is heard by the judges in their chamber.

The apex court, however, has given him a rare fourth chance to raise his contention before it.

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