'Assault on cop worst attack on law'
Attacking a policeman during the discharge of his official duty was the "deepest wound on rule of law", said the judge who sentenced lone Batla House encounter convict Shahzad to life imprisonment on Tuesday.
Additional Sessions judge Rajender Kumar Shastri said: "Police is an integral part of our life. While in any peril, we rely upon the police. When we sleep, police awakes."
The court said Shahzad had no licence to open fire at policemen who came there to investigate a case, merely because they were unarmed or not wearing any bullet-proof jacket. "They were expected to assist the police and not to attack them," the court had said while convicting Shahzad on July 25.
The suspected IM operative was convicted of killing Delhi Police special cell officer Mohan Chand Sharma. The verdict also nullified conspiracy theories regarding the encounter. There was speculation that it was faked by the police under pressure to catch the people behind the 2008 Delhi serial blasts.
The encounter took place on September 19, 2008 when a team of Delhi Police special cell raided flat no.108, L-18, Batla House. The police had received a tip-off that terrorists allegedly involved in the 2008 Delhi serial blasts were hiding there.
Shahzad, who escaped after firing at Sharma and two other police officers, was arrested two months later from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh.
"Law obliges every person to assist the police in apprehending the suspect, whom the police is authorised to arrest," the court said. The judge noted that the fact that the convict fired at the police and killed one of them was the most aggravating factor that would have earned him a death sentence but certain "mitigating" circumstances offset it.
While refusing to buy prosecution claim that the case belongs in the rarest of rare category, the noted that Shahzad, a young boy aged 25 years, had to be given a chance to reform. It took note of his 'exemplary conduct during trial and no past convictions'.
The court noted that the crime was "not pre-meditated" and happened in the spur of the moment".