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Kasab verdict: 'What do we gain out of this?'

May 03, 2010 22:57 IST

Ajmal Kasab may have been finally been convicted, but the biggest debate that has been doing the rounds is the delay in the trial and also the fact that two co-accused were acquitted by the court.

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan's father, Unnikrishnan, even went on to the extent of saying, "What do we gain out of this? Public memory is short and the trial has taken nearly two years.

The conviction was mainly based on the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act, a very conventional style of conducting a trial.

The court and the prosecution had no option since provisions of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act and Prevention of Terrorism Act were no longer available, as both laws -- considered to be draconian by many -- had been repealed.

Former police officers and judges of the High Court and Supreme Court say that there is a need to bring back tougher laws since cases of terrorism have international ramification and under normal procedures there are too many obstacles that make the case of the prosecution extremely difficult.

Justice Micheal F Saldanha, former judge of the Bombay High Court, told "I don't dispute the argument that we need stronger laws, but there has been a debate regarding the misuse of such laws. This is true that such laws have been misused immensely and this had led to its repeal. There is too much being made out of the acquittals today. The solution is not to say that convict every person before the court."

"Fighting terrorism is a very complex subject. During a meeting with some security experts from Israel recently, they had told me that they believe in gunning down a terrorist. They say that it is better to gun them down rather than keep them in prison inviting political complications and expenditures. We have an example in the Afzal Guru case where he has been in prison without being hanged due to political pressure."

"Theoretically speaking the Indian police and prosecution needs a very good back up where laws relating to terrorism are concerned. I personally feel that since strong laws always tend to get misused it is better to set up a body with specialist investigators. The 26/11 case was handled by the local police who don't have the competence to handle cases with an international magnitude," he said.

"Apart from this what I have noticed in the judiciary is that some sessions judges are unable to handle cases of such a magnitude. Special judges should be picked and a special tribunal set up to handle such cases. That way there would be no delay in the trial and the case would be watertight. Another thing that should be included is that in all cases of terrorism the clemency provisions should be done away with. After the verdict of the sessions court, the appeal should lie directly with the Supreme Court. That way the delays in executing a sentence will come down," Saldanha observed

Justice Santhosh Hegde, former Supreme Court judge, feels that since terrorism is such a major issue, it is time that stringent laws such as TADA and POTA with regulations are put in place.

"Terrorists come to wage war against the nation and we are giving them benefits under Article 21. Their confessions are not taken on record when tried under the IPC, which makes the job of the prosecution tedious. I feel that the appeal provisions should also be reduced and a direct appeal should lie only with the Supreme Court," he said.

"What I find hilarious is that we have spent nearly Rs 74 crore on a terrorist and the end result was that we get to point a finger at Pakistan. It does not make any sense since Pakistan is not going to be affected by this and they are already saying that this entire thing is a foregone conclusion," he added.
Vicky Nanjappa