Suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Shahzad Ahmed, convicted in the 2008 Batla House encounter case, was on Tuesday sentenced to life imprisonment for gunning down Delhi Police inspector MC Sharma.
“The case in hand is not a rarest of rare case warranting death sentence,” additional sessions judge RK Shastri said, rejecting the Delhi Police’s plea for death penalty.
Her brother was innocent and falsely implicated, Ahmed’s sister Sifa Seraj said. “We will fight for justice till the end and appeal in the Supreme Court,” she said.
The encounter had split the opinion right in the middle and even acquired political overtones, with many questioning the police’s claims.
The court on July 25 ruled the encounter as genuine and pronounced Ahmed guilty, saying that “the incident was not a sudden confrontation” and that the police team wasn’t expecting a gunfight”.
On Tuesday, the judge said though Ahmed’s act of killing an unarmed police official and injuring two others “had shocked collective conscience of entire nation”, the young man — he is 25 — should be given a chance to reform and return to mainstream.
“There can be no deeper wound on rule of law than to attack a police officer while discharging his official duty”, the court said. Ahmed was fined Rs. 95,000, of which Rs. 40,000 will be given to Sharma’s family.
On September 19, 2008 a Delhi Police team raided flat 108, L-18 Batla House in Jamia Nagar following a tip-off that terrorists involved in the serial blasts that rocked the Capital six days earlier and left 26 dead were hiding there. Ahmed, who managed to flee, was arrested two months later from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh. He is also facing trial in the blasts case.
Equating Ahmed’s case with that of 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab, special public prosecutor Satwinder Kaur called for the death penalty, saying there was no scope for his reformation. The case wasn’t rarest of rare so death penalty shouldn’t be awarded, Ahmed’s advocate Satish Tamta argued.