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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Afzal Guru Execution

Courts unanimous, said gravest crime deserved nothing but death
Satya Prakash, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 10, 2013
First Published: 00:42 IST(10/2/2013)
Last Updated: 00:43 IST(10/2/2013)

The man awarded death penalty for the December 13, 2001 terror attack aimed at eliminating the entire political leadership of the country has finally been executed.

Given the extreme nature of punishment, there are bound to be views for and against it — depending upon one's political convictions and predilections.

But Indian courts did not have even an iota of doubt about the nefarious role played by Afzal Guru in the attack on India's temple of democracy that left nine dead and over 15 injured.

The trial court, the Delhi high court and the Supreme Court  — all were unanimous in their decision that Afzal should be hanged by the neck till death.

"The persons who help terrorists enter into India and carry out 'fidayeen' (suicide) attacks are equally liable for the killing of innocent persons as hardcore terrorists themselves.

"They are enemies of mankind, they deserve no leniency. The punishment given in such cases must be deterrent," Special Judge SN Dhingra had said in his December 18, 2002 verdict giving death penalty to Afzal, SAR Geerani and Shaukat Guru.

"The attack on Parliament was an attack on the nation's sovereignty," a Delhi HC bench of justice Usha Mehra and justice Pradeep Nandrajog said in its October 29, 2003 verdict upholding the death penalty awarded to Afzal and Shaukat.

Quoting from the SC verdict in Krishna Mochi versus State of Bihar case, the HC said:  "The gravity of offence committed is of this magnitude that the collective conscience of the community is so shocked that it will expect the holders of the judicial power centre to inflict death penalty."

After examining the evidence on record the SC was convinced that Afzal deserved capital punishment.

"The incident, which resulted in heavy casualties, had shaken the entire nation and the collective conscience of the society will only be satisfied if the capital punishment is awarded to the offender," a bench of justice PV Reddy and justice PP Naolekar had said upholding Afzal's death penalty.

"The very idea of attacking and overpowering a sovereign democratic institution by using powerful arms and explosives and imperiling the safety of a multitude of peoples' representatives, constitutional functionaries and officials of Government of India and engaging into a combat with security forces is a terrorist act of gravest severity," the SC said. 

"In the instant case, there can be no doubt that the most appropriate punishment is death sentence. That is what has been awarded by the trial court and the high court," the SC concluded.


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