Delhi High Court on Thursday upheld the death penalty awarded to Lashkar-e-Tayiba militant Mohammad Ashfaq in the seven-year-old Red Fort attack case but acquitted six others sentenced to varying jail terms.
A division bench comprising Justice R S Sodhi and Justice P K Bhasin dismissed Ashfaq's appeal against a trial court verdict awarding capital punishment to him for waging a war against the State and killing three persons, including two army jawans, in the Red Fort on the night of December 22, 2000.
Prosecution has proved its case with sufficient evidence against Ashfaq for his involvement in the attack, the bench said, adding that so far as other accused are concerned, the prosecution failed to complete the chain of events.
The trial court's conviction order, based on confessions of the accused, was reversed by the court since the statements were given to the police, which are not admissible as evidence.
"We uphold the conviction and death sentence to Ashfaq and the remaining six convicts are acquitted," the bench said.
The bench, in its 210-page judgment, reversed the trial court findings against six convicts including Srinagar-based father-and-son duo Nazir Ahmed Qasid and Farooq Ahmed Qasid, who were sentenced to life imprisonment, and Pakistani national Ashfaq's Indian wife Rehamana Yosuf Farooqui. She was given a seven-year jail term.
They were earlier found guilty of harbouring Mohd Ashfaq, one of the six militants who had sneaked into the 17th century monument and opened indiscriminate firing on the guards of 7th battallion of Rajputana Rifles, killing three including a civilian.
Other convicts who were acquitted by the court included Babar Mohsin Baghwala, Sadakat Ali and Matloob Alam, who were sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment for sheltering and providing fake Indian identity cards to Ashfaq.
All seven convicts had on July last year approached the high court seeking reversal of the trial court verdict. Delhi Police had, however, sought enhancement of punishment awarded to the six convicts.
Minutes after the verdict was pronounced, Ashfaq's wife Farooqui came out of the courtroom with tears in her eyes and said, "I had a great hope of getting justice in the high court."
She, however, refused to comment on the death penalty awarded to her husband by the court.