The Delhi Police on Monday sought death sentence for Shahzad Ahmed, the lone accused Indian Mujahideen operative to have been convicted in the 2008 Batla House encounter case in which inspector MC Sharma was killed and two other officers injured.
Public prosecutor Satwinder Kaur said Shahzad, besides killing Sharma, was involved in the serial blasts — six days before the encounter — in which 26 people had been killed and 133 injured.
Additional sessions judge Rajender Kumar Shastri objected to the prosecution referring to the serial blasts. He asked whether Shehzad had been involved in an earlier offence and stated that “until he is convicted in that case, he should be presumed to be innocent”.
The judge, who had convicted Shahzad on July 25, was hearing arguments from the prosecution and the defence. Shahzad’s lawyer Satish Tamta pleaded leniency for his client, saying he was only 25 years old and should be given a chance to reform.
”The present case does not fall under the rarest of rare category and the crime was committed on the spur of the moment without any premeditation,” Tamta said.
The court will pronounce its sentence on Tuesday. Outside the court complex on Monday, over 50 residents of Paharganj — where one of the blasts had taken place on September 13, 2008 - had gathered to demand the death penalty for Shahzad.
Citing the Supreme Court ruling in the Bachan Singh and Machi Singh’s case, in which it laid down the criteria for granting death sentences, Kaur said the apex court had said courts should weigh both aggravating and mitigating circumstances before pronouncing its judgment.
Kaur said while there were “no mitigating circumstances”, those “aggravating” were that “the convict had fired on unarmed police officers to kill them. Such cases shake the conscience of the society. It should be remembered that Sharma’s death also shattered his aged parents, wife and children”.
While convicting Shahzad, the court drew curtains on the row surrounding the genuineness of the encounter at L-18 on September 19, 2008 as it did on questions raised by some on whether Sharma was killed by terrorists or by policemen who had accompanied him.
“The incident was not a sudden confrontation. Police had received information after which a raid team was formed. The accused had no license to fire at the police”, the court had said.