Showing leniency, the Supreme Court has set free a terrorist who faced trial for 20 years and spent over 11 years in jail for abducting former Jammu and Kashmir legislator Mir Mustafa before his killing in 1990.
A bench of Justice Harjit Singh Bedi and Justice A.K. Patnaik set free Mohammed Maqbool Tantray after reducing his 14 years' sentence for kidnapping the former legislator to the 11-and-half-year-long imprisonment actually undergone by him.
The bench reduced the convicted terrorist's sentence, without setting aside his conviction, and noted that he “has already undergone more than 11-and-half years' sentence, after facing a protracted trial for over 20 years”.
The bench set free Tantray saying that the trial court had found him “involved only in the kidnapping part of the offence and he had nothing to do with the murder”.
While reducing Tantray’s punishment, the bench also took note of his remorse, lamenting and regretting the circumstances which led to the former legislator's murder.
While setting free the terrorist, the bench also gave him the benefit of his good conduct in jail and during the period when he was on bail for one-and-half years.
The bench set Tantray free quoting the principles of sentencing, set out in an earlier apex court judgment, which said that “punishment to an accused in criminal jurisprudence is not merely to punish the wrongdoer, but also to warn those, who are in the same sphere of crime or are intending to join in such crimes”.
“This punishment is also to reform such wrongdoers not to commit such crimes in future,” the bench said in a verdict delivered Feb 4 but released Thursday.
The bench showed leniency to Tantray, accepting his plea that he was the sole person convicted in the case involving 17 others out of which 11 were discharged, two had been acquitted, three had died during the trial and one could never be arrested.
While setting the terrorist free, the bench rejected the government counsel’s argument that Tantray was one of the prime movers of the incident, which led to the former legislator’s death and he should be shown no leniency.
The apex court gave the ruling on an appeal by Tantray, challenging his conviction by the special anti-terror court in Srinagar for his role in abducting the former legislator on March 25, 1990.