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No option but to uphold Kasab's death sentence: SC

The Supreme Court today upheld the death sentence awarded to 26/11 gunman Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab and rejected his appeal against his conviction and death sentence in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks in which 166 people were killed.

"We are left with no option but to uphold the death sentence of Kasab," the Supreme Court bench observed.

Waging war against the country is the primary and foremost offence committed by Kasab, the court observed.

25-year-old Kasab had filed the appeal from jail, challenging his conviction and death sentence. The apex court had appointed senior advocate Raju Ramachandran as amicus curiae to argue on behalf of Kasab.

A bench of justices Aftab Alam and CK Prasad had reserved its verdict on 25 April after a marathon hearing, spanning over two and a half months, of arguments by the prosecution and defence counsel in the terror mayhem, which involved random firing by Kasab and other mercenaries.

Kasab after his arrest in 2008. Screen grab from CNN IBN

Kasab, during the argument in the apex court, had contended that he was not given a free and fair trial and that he was not part of any larger conspiracy for waging war against India.

Kasab had also contended that the prosecution had failed to prove the case against him beyond doubt, and told the bench that his right against self-incrimination as well as his right to get himself adequately represented by a counsel to defend himself in the case had been violated during the trial.

However, the Supreme Court today observed that not providing a counsel to Kasab by government at pre-trial stage did not vitiate his trial.

The court also said that the gunman's confession in the case was voluntary and not taken under coercion by investigating authorities, quashing his claim that it was extracted through torture.

"It is established that crimminal conspiracy aganist India was hatched in Pakistan. This is a case where we have further established that this is an attack on soveignity of India. Am satisfied that the punishment to Kasab stays. I welcome this important judgement. This is a strong message to the perpetrators of terrorism," Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who represented the case in the trial court and high court, told CNN IBN.

In his special leave petition (SLP) against the Bombay High Court judgement, which confirmed his death sentence, Kasab had claimed he was brainwashed like a "robot" into committing the crime in the name of "God" and pleaded that he does not deserve the death penalty due to his young age. The apex court had stayed Kasab's death sentence on 10 October last year.

Kasab, who is lodged in Arthur Road Prison in Mumbai, had filed the SLP through jail authorities.

Kasab, along with nine other Pakistani terrorists, had landed in south Mumbai on 26 November, 2008 night after travelling from Karachi by sea and had gone on a shooting spree at various city landmarks, in which 166 people were killed.

While Kasab was captured alive, the other terrorists in his group had been killed by security forces during the counter-terror operations. He was sentenced to death by a special anti-terror court on 6 May, 2010.

The Supreme Court has upheld the acquittal of two alleged Indian co-conspirators, Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin, in the 26/11 terror case.

The Bombay High Court had upheld on 21 February last year the trial court's order of death sentence to Kasab for the "brutal and diabolical" attacks aimed at "destabilising" the government.

Kasab's death penalty was upheld on charges of criminal conspiracy, waging war against the nation and various other provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the anti-terror law -- Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The high court had upheld Kasab's conviction on 19 counts under the IPC, the Arms Act, the Explosives Act, the Explosive Substances Act, the Foreigners Act, the Passport Act and the Railway Act.

with inputs from PTI