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Sentence order in Parliament case on Wednesday

December 17, 2002 16:54 IST

Special Judge S N Dhingra on Tuesday deferred by a day the order of sentence to be handed to the suspended professor of the Delhi University, S A R Geelani, Mohammed Afzal, Shaukat Guru and his wife Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru, the four convicted in the Parliament attack case.

The judge had held Geelani, Afzal and Shaukat guilty under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for waging a war against India by conspiring with the terrorists who carried out the attack.

He held Afsan guilty under Section 123 of the Indian Penal Code for not informing the police of the conspiracy.

Opening the arguments on behalf of the husband and wife, advocate Nityaramakrishnan said that though Section 123 provided for a maximum of 10 years, Afsan deserved lesser punishment.

"She has not been found guilty under POTA, though she was booked under it. She would have been bailed out under any other provision, particularly as she was in an advance stage of pregnancy. She suffered mental torture. If she had gone to the police to lodge a FIR against her husband, it would have ruptured her marriage. She did not know Kashmiri and hence she did not know what the accused were up to. She has suffered mentally. She is not in a fit mental condition. The sentence should be limited to the period that she has already spent in jail," she pleaded.

She quoted Leo Tolstoy, Jayprakash Narayan and Supreme Court judgments to press home the point that death sentence was no longer a deterrent.

"What deterrence can death sentence be to those who are willing to die," she argued. "By handing down death sentence we will make them martyrs in the eyes of a particular section of the society. We will further alienate them," she argued.

"You should ask Osama bin Laden to stop manufacturing terrorists in factories of terrorism," the judge intervened. "Should the court be fearful of terrorists while handing down judgments?" he asked.

The advocate said it was not her intention to suggest that the court should be fearful of terrorists.

She argued that Shaukat had no previous police record. She quoted Justice P N Bhagwati to make the point that society was moving away from death sentence, "especially when alternative of life imprisonment is available, which is no cakewalk".

Seema Gulati, arguing for Geelani, said her client was in a noble profession. "He has no previous criminal record. He deserves a chance to improve. The only thing that goes against him is the confessional statement of the co-accused that he used to be present when the meetings took place. He has no direct involvement in the crime. So he should be given another chance," she said.

Delhi Police Special Prosecutor D P Aggarwal said the case was among the rarest of rare and hence the accused did not deserve any mercy. "They should be given maximum penalty -- death in this case," he said in a brief intervention.

Thereafter, the judge said that he would give his verdict on Wednesday at 1100 IST.