Departing from usual procedure, a special MCOCA court in Mumbai on Monday heard arguments from lawyers of the 12 people convicted for the July 11, 2006 Mumbai train bombings before hearing the prosecution’s arguments on their sentences.
The court asked defence advocates to begin their arguments on the convicts’ sentences before the prosecution could argue for specific sentences for each. Defense lawyer Yug Mohit Choudhary opposed this, saying it departed from the usual procedure followed by trial courts.
12 convicted in 2006 Mumbai train blasts
“The general practice is to allow the prosecution to present arguments on the quantum of punishment first, and hear arguments from defence lawyers and convicts later. However, in the present case, we have only heard that the prosecution is likely to seek capital punishment but are not yet sure for whom and on what parameters the death penalty will be sought,” Chaudhary said.
Rejecting his contention, the court began by recording the statements of the 12 convicts. This was completed by lunch, after which defence lawyers were asked to put forward their arguments. Arguing against the death sentence, advocate Prakash Shetty contended that awarding capital punishment was the exception and life imprisonment the rule. “Capital punishment can be awarded only if the convicts are beyond reformation,” Shetty said.
Meanwhile, Chaudhary moved applications on behalf of three convicts, seeking reports from the probation officer on their conduct in jail. He sought the reports to show the court proof of the convicts’ good conduct and argue for a reduced sentence. He also sought the medical records of the convicts, especially those of Faisal Sheikh, who has a brain tumour.
The court ordered the jail authorities to produce medical reports of all the convicts and said it will pass an order on the applications seeking reports from probation officers about the convicts’ conduct on Tuesday.