President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam alone can save Mohammad Afzal Guru from the noose now. The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the curative petition — the last legal option available to an accused — of the Parliament attack convict, who has been awarded the death penalty and is awaiting a decision on his mercy plea from the President.
A four-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India Y.K. Sabharwal also dismissed the curative petition of co-convict Shaukat Hussain Guru, who had been sentenced to 10-year rigorous imprisonment.
The bench, comprising Justices K.G. Balakrishnan, B.N. Agrawal and P.P. Naolekar, did not find any merit in the petitions. The court had already rejected the review petitions against the August 4, 2005 trial court verdict upholding the death sentence, which the Delhi High Court had confirmed.
In his curative petition, Afzal had sought setting aside of his conviction and sentence on the ground that he had not got a fair trial. Afzal had contended that the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution included the right to fair trial and he did not get one for want of a competent lawyer defending him.
In the petition filed by advocate Kamini Jaiswal, Afzal had urged the court to stay the death sentence awarded to him pending hearing and final disposal of the matter.
The curative petition is heard by the three seniormost judges of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice of India, along with the judges who dismissed the review petition.
The apex court had dismissed Afzal’s review petition in September 2005 for his involvement in the conspiracy to attack Parliament. The Supreme Court had upheld the acquittal of Delhi University Lecturer S.A.R. Geelani and the lone woman accused, Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru, wife of Shaukat Guru.