While the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence awarded to lone surviving terrorist Ajmal Kasab, the 26/11 gunman’s march to the gallows may still take a while.
Kasab has the right to appeal before the President in the form of a mercy petition.
However, President Pranab Mukherjee already has at least 11 mercy petitions pending with him, including that of Afzal Guru, who was convicted in the Parliament attack case.
It is believed that Kasab may join the mercy queue to delay his execution. However, the question that arises now is whether Mukherjee will give in to public sentiment and give priority to his plea.
Sudeep Pasbola, criminal lawyer and president of sessions bar association, said the President could consider decide to fast-track the petition if he wanted to. “The President being head of the execution system, can decide on the plea as he feels fit,” he explained.
However, noted criminal advocate IP Bagaria feels that with the petition of so many still pending, a terrorist shouldn’t be given priority. “Everyone should be seen equally and one has to wait for their turn for justice,” Bagaria said.
According to criminal lawyer Wahab Khan, who has represented many accused in terrorist attack cases, even if Kasab’s mercy petition was given priority and a decision was taken, he might not be executed as there were hardly any executors left.
“Also, since Abu Jundal’s trial is pending, it may be years before the execution of the death sentence,” he said.
Many believe that Kasab’s case should be given priority as Rs26 crore of public money has already been spent to arrange for his security, and other necessities.
“The state should not wait for the trial of the others to finish. It is not mandatory and it will serve no purpose. If they wait, there are many accused who are absconding and the process will never end,” a few of them opined.