Madan Laxman Tahiliyani (55), who recently took charge as Principal Judge of the Mumbai City Civil and Sessions Court, delivered a historic verdict on Monday. He convicted Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab (22), the sole attacker captured alive during 26/11, and acquitted two others — Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, who allegedly facilitated the attack.
The trial — that involved 12 criminal cases and 660 witnesses — was historic not only because of the audacity of the terror strike, but because it was one of the fastest ever terror trials in India.
The earlier experience with terror trials was discouraging — the 1993 serial blasts trial, involving 123 accused, 52 cases and over 700 witnesses, dragged on for 14 long years.
On Monday, Justice Tahiliyani reached the special court inside Arthur Road prison, a little before schedule. His car entered the court premises just before 10 am. Dodging the mediapersons, the judge proceeded to announce the verdict on the date he had declared a month ago. At that time, many feared he would adjourn the verdict.
Judge Tahiliyani, who completed his legal studies from Nagpur and started practising as a lawyer and then as a public prosecutor in Naxal-infested Gadchiroli district, pronounced the verdict without betraying that he knew he was becoming a part of history.
Tahiliyani entered the judicial service as an additional metropolitan magistrate in 1987. Ten years later, he was elevated as a sessions judge. As additional sessions judge, he presided over the high-profile murder trials of music baron Gulshan Kumar and union leader Datta Samant.