On Monday, when the sessions court will hear arguments for the quantum of sentences for the 21 convicted persons which includes 16 cops, the prosecution will seek capital punishment for those held guilty of Lakhan Bhaiya's cold-blooded murder in 2006.
Special public prosecutor Vidhya Kasle said after the verdict in the sessions court on Friday that the prosecution would seek maximum punishment for all the accused. “The prosecution will also challenge Pradeep Sharma's acquittal in the Bombay high court,” she said.
The prosecution is likely to rely heavily on the observations of the division bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra of the Supreme Court. While rejecting the bail application of the accused in 2012, the bench had observed: “The encounter philosophy is a criminal philosophy, and all policemen must know this. Trigger-happy policemen who think they can kill people in the name of encounter and get away with it should know that the gallows await them.”
The bench had drawn parallels to the trials of Nazi war criminals. “In the Nuremburg trials, the Nazi war criminals took the plea that ‘orders are orders’, but they were hanged nevertheless,” the apex court had observed.
Sharma, who is the only accused to be acquitted from all charges, will have to spend a few more days in jail, till the court gives its final verdict in the case, said court officials.
However, the prosecution said it would challenge Sharma’s acquittal, claiming he was the key conspirator. The prosecution had claimed Sharma had led the squad, and relying on ballistic reports, alleged Lakhan Bhaiya was shot from his gun.
The prosecution examined over 110 witnesses and exhibited over 1,000 documents during the encounter trial, which was conducted on day-to-day basis, and lasted for over a year.
Four months after reserving the order, and after going through the entire evidence comprising over 2,000 pages, sessions judge VD Jadhvar convicted 21 persons including former senior inspector Pradeep Suryavanshi, who had led the encounter team.