A court on Monday convicted Ariz Khan, allegedly associated with the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen, for the murder of decorated Delhi police inspector Mohan Chand Sharma in a case related to 2008 Batla House encounter which was questioned by certain political parties and leaders.
Holding that it was an open and shut case, Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav said the evidence adduced on record by prosecution including ocular evidence, documentary evidence and scientific evidence leaves no manner of doubt that prosecution in the instance case has successfully proved the charges framed against accused beyond any reasonable doubt.
“It has been proved on record that on the aforesaid date, time and place accused Ariz Khan alias Junaid, alongwith his associates Md Atif Ameen and Md Sajid (both died in the shoot-out with members of raiding team) and Md Shahzad alias Pappu (already subjected to trial and convicted) in furtherance of common intention of all of them intentionally and knowingly committed murder by causing death of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma by firearm,” the judge held in a 103-page judgment.
The court will hear arguments on the quantum of sentence on March 15. Ariz Khan faces a maximum punishment of death penalty while the minimum sentence for murder is life imprisonment. He was arrested on February 14, 2018, after a decade being on run.
The judgment assumes importance as Congress leader Digvijay Singh had voiced his doubts over the police claims about the encounter and Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party had also demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter.
However, the Congress party had distanced itself from the comment of Singh, who later in 2016 had also claimed that there was no evidence to prove the guilt of the accused arrested in the matter and had asked the central government to order a judicial probe into the encounter by dubbing it as "fake".
Following his comment, the Bharatiya Janata Party had staged a protest near the Congress headquarters in Delhi demanding an apology from its top leadership over the statements of the party leaders over the Batla House encounter issue.
Inspector Sharma of the Special Cell of Delhi Police was killed during the encounter which took place a week after five serial blasts had hit the national capital on September 13, 2008 in which at least 30 people were killed and over 100 injured.
After the encounter of September 19, 2008, protest rallies were organised against it by teachers and students of Jamia Millia Islamia University.
National Human Rights Commission, which had conducted inquiry in the case on the direction of the Delhi High Court, gave clean chit to Delhi Police.
Two suspected terrorists, Atif Ameen and Mohammad Sajid were killed while two other suspects -- Mohammad Saif and Zeeshan were arrested earlier.
The court dismissed defence counsel M S Khan's argument that the evidence against the accused were planted, saying “there was contemporaneous recovery of incriminating articles viz. photographs, educational certificate pertaining to accused from the place of occurrence”.
“If these articles were falsely planted, accused has to tell where from police got those articles,” the court said.
The judge said there was dock identification of the accused as all the members of raiding party had clearly identified the accused in the court and “all police officials who were part of raiding team and who deposed in the Court have fully and completely corroborated each other in material particulars and therefore, it is an open and shut case”.
It said the defence could not point out any contradiction in the depositions of police officials as regards the time of occurrence, place of occurrence, number of police officials involved and injured in the incident, number of persons involved from the side of accused and other material particulars.
“All these witnesses were cross examined at length by the defence counsel. However, defence has not been able to create any dent in otherwise most reliable, credible and truthworthy testimony of said witnesses by way of their lengthy cross examination,” the court observed.
It added it clearly emerged from the depositions of aforesaid witnesses that accused Ariz Khan alongwith his associates fired on police party as soon as police team entered the flat and in the process fatally injured Inspector Sharma and Head Constable Balwant.
“Inspector Sharma succumbed to injuries in the hospital. As per postmortem report, Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma received two injuries, one in abdomen and one in shoulder. Accused Ariz Khan alias Junaid, alongwith his associates, is responsible for fatally injuring Head Constable Balwant and for killing Inspector Sharma,” it said.
The court rejected the contention that it was not clear as to which particular bullet hit Sharma and said highly mutilated bullet mentioned in ballistic report could not be matched with any of the weapons and therefore, it is possible that the bullet was fired by accused Ariz Khan. Therefore, the plea of accused that in the absence of clarity about particular bullet which hit Inspector Sharma, charge under section 302 (murder) of IPC could not be sustained is liable to be rejected.
The court rejected the contention that bullet injuries were due to accidental firing by police officials and said they were caused by militants occupying the flat.
The court also convicted the accused under various provisons of IPC and under section 27 (punishment for using arms) of the Arms Act.