Pakistan national Mohammad Hussain, sentenced to death for complicity in a 1997 bomb blast case that claimed four lives, on Friday got a reprieve after the Supreme Court ordered a fresh trial after setting aside his conviction and capital punishment.
"The matter requires to be remanded for a de novo trial," said a three-judge bench headed by justice RM Lodha, while setting aside his conviction and punishment saying he was denied the assistance of a lawyer during his trial in the lower court.
The court's ruling came on a reference arising out of a split verdict of a two-judge bench which had held that the trial against the appellant was flawed, but had differed on the course to be followed.
While one judge had ordered de novo trial, the other had directed that Hussain "be deported to his country in accordance with the law, and till then he shall remain in jail custody".
The bomb was planted in a public transport bus in Delhi in 1997. The bus was carrying many passengers out of which four people died while 24 others were injured.
The three-judge bench, in its 32-page verdict, however, struck a balance between the right to fair trial of the accused and the gravity of the offence.
"Gravity of the offences and the criminality with which the appellant is charged are important factors that need to be kept in mind, though it is a fact that in the first instance the accused has been denied due process," the court’s verdict said.