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SC adjourns hearing on Shaukat's plea

SC will hear the curative petitions filed by Afzal along with co-convict Shaukat Hussain Guru, reports Satya Prakash.

india Updated: Dec 15, 2006 22:48 IST

The Supreme Court would hear the curative petitions filed by Parliament attack case convict Mohammad Afzal along with that of co-convict Shaukat Hussain Guru, which is already pending adjudication.

Afzal is awaiting a decision by President on his mercy plea against the death penalty while Shaukat has been sentenced to 10-year rigorous imprisonment in the case.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India YK Sabharwal has adjourned the hearing on Shaukat's curative petition in view of Afzal filing a separate petition of the same nature.

The court, which has already rejected the review petitions filed by the convict duo, noted that there were certain defects in Afzal's petition which needed to be rectified before it could be taken up for hearing.

In his curative petition, Afzal has setting aside of his conviction and sentence on the ground that he did not get a fair trial. In the petition filed through Counsel Kamini Jaiswal, Afzal has urged the court to stay the death sentence awarded to him pending hearing and final disposal of the matter.

The curative petition is the last judicial option available to an accused after exhausting all the appeals and dismissal of review petition in the Supreme Court. It is heard by three senior most judges of the Supreme Court including the Chief Justice of India plus the judges who dismissed the review petition.

He has contended that the fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution included the right to fair trial and his conviction was vitiated for want of proper legal representation.

Afzal, who was represented by an advocate provided by the Legal Aid Authority of the State, claimed that he did not get a fair trial in the absence of representation by a competent lawyer.

The apex court had dismissed Afzal's review petition in September last year against the August 4, 2005 verdict upholding the death sentence awarded to him by the trial court and confirmed by the Delhi High Court for his involvement in the conspiracy to attack Parliament to liquidate the country's leadership.

The Supreme Court had upheld the acquittal of Delhi University Lecturer SAR Geelani and the lone woman accused, Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru, wife of Shaukat Guru.

Shaukat, who was awarded 10-year rigorous imprisonment in the case, has also filed a curative petition.

Shaukat has challenged this conviction and sentence for concealing the information of conspiracy from the police on the ground that he was never tried for an offence under Section 123 of the IPC and no charge was framed against him under the this section by the trial court.

The trial court sentenced him to death, which was confirmed by the High Court. The Supreme Court, however, acquitted him of the charge of murder but held him guilty of deliberately concealing the information regarding the conspiracy thereby facilitating the December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament which resulted in the death of nine security personnel.

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First Published: Dec 15, 2006 22:48 IST