Bringing to an end, one of the oldest appeals pending before it, the Delhi High Court on Thursday upheld the conviction of two Anand Margis Santosh Anand Avdhoot and Sudevanand Avdhoot for attempting to assassinate then Chief Justice of India AN Ray near the Supreme Court in 1975.
The HC, however, set free third convict Ranjan Dwivedi, a lawyer, of the charge of conspiring with convicts Santosh Anand and Sudevanand to bomb the car of the then CJI on the evening of March 20, 1975.
The appeals against the trial court's judgement were filed in the High Court in 1976 and the hearing commenced in 2006, after the lapse of three decades. It took the HC 38 year to decide the case.
Justice SP Garg, in his 201-page verdict, termed the offence as "the most foul and senseless murderous attack" on the CJI and said the convicts did not deserve any leniency on any grounds including the delay in judicial process.
The convicts, who remained in jail for eleven years from 1975 to 1986 when they got bail, have been awarded ten years rigorous jail term under section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC.
The two convicts have now been directed to surrender before the trial court on August 21 to serve the remaining sentence of three years as the sentences of 10 and four years were not concurrent.
Considering the gravity of the offence whereby sinister attempt was made on the life of the CJI in a well-planned conspiracy with the use of highly sophisticated explosives (hand-grenades), the convicts deserve no leniency, the HC said.
"Inference can safely be drawn that Santoshanand developed a feeling that CJI was responsible for the continuous detention of Baba Anandmurti (the founder of Ananda Marga?) due to rejection of bail applications repeatedly and declining to transfer the case," the HC said.
"Despite claiming to be followers of the 'Organisation' (Anand Margi) which did not preach violence, the convicts indulged in the most foul and senseless murderous attack/ assault on the CJI," it said.
The incident took place on March 20, 1975 at about 04.15pm when the assailants threw two hand-grenades in the car in an attempt to murder the then CJI Ray, when he was proceeding with his son Ajoy Nath Ray from the Supreme Court to his residence in a staff car. The hand-grenades thrown inside the car did not explode.