A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Jaipur on Thursday deferred the sentencing of the two convicts in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast case until March 18.
Three people were killed and at least 15 others injured in an explosion at the famous shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Rajasthan’s Ajmer on October 11, 2007.
On March 8, the special NIA court convicted Bhavesh Patel, Devendra Gupta and Sunil Joshi (now dead) and had fixed March 16 for the sentencing.
The special NIA court judge Dinesh Gupta found Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) members Gupta and deceased Joshi, guilty of conspiring the blasts and Patel of planting the explosives.
The court acquitted Aseemanand, also an accused in the Samjhauta Express and Mecca Masjid blasts, and six other accused, giving them the “benefit of doubt”.
Gupta and Joshi were members of the RSS and worked together in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore and Mhow from 1998 to 2003, the charge sheet filed by the Rajasthan ATS, said.
Gupta, a native of Ajmer, moved to Jamtara in Jharkhand in 2003 and stayed there until 2008 but the two kept in touch and met several times till Joshi’s mysterious death in 2007, the court was told.
“We asked the court that the sentence for the convicts be decided under Section 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
“In addition, we urged that Section 16 of the same act should not be clubbed with Section 120B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) while deciding the punishment,” said Jagdish Rana, counsel for the convicts.
The Section 18 (punishment for conspiracy) of the UAPA lays down imprisonment for a term not less than 5 years whereas Section 16 lays down death or imprisonment for life if a terrorist act has resulted in the death of a person.
Public prosecutor Ashwini Kumar Sharma, however, said that the UAPA is a special act and sections of both the UAPA and the IPC can be applied while deciding the quantum of the punishment.
“We also cited a Supreme Court judgment of 1957, where a section of the Prevention of Corruption Act– a special act– was applied with a section of the IPC,” he said.