The Bombay high court on Monday said it would deliver its verdict on February 21 on confirmation of death sentence awarded to Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab for his role in the 26/11 terror attacks and also on his appeal against his conviction.
Justices Ranjana Desai and R V More said that they were ready with the judgement even on Monday but because of bulky paper work and heavy compilation they would pronounce the verdict a fortnight later.
On the same day the high court would also pronounce its judgement on the appeal filed by Maharashtra government challenging acquittal of co-accused Faheem Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed in the same case.
The trial court had set them free on the ground that evidence against the duo was doubtful. The judges on Monday asked Government Counsel Ujjwal Nikam to make arrangements for video conference link in the court for Kasab on February 21 in case he wanted to hear the verdict from the Arthur Road Central jail where he is lodged.
However, Kasab's lawyer Amin Solkar pleaded that the judgement may be pronounced on February 28 as he was going abroad and would not be able to remain present on February 21.
The judges expressed their inability to consider his request and decided to give the verdict on February 21.
On May 6 last year, the trial court had sentenced Kasab to death after holding him responsible for the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, which left 166 dead and many more wounded.
Nine terrorists, who had come with him from Pakistan, had been killed by security forces during the three-day seige.
Trial judge M L Tahiliyani had accepted the case of the prosecution that Kasab and nine others had come from Karachi by sea and struck terror by firing on people in the city including the bustling CST and hotels Taj and Oberoi.
Under the law, death sentence awarded to an accused by trial court comes up before the high court for confirmation. Arguments on these matters began on October 17 last and were heard on a day-to-day basis by the high court except for brief periods during Diwali and Christmas holidays.
For the first time, a video conference link was put up in the court for hearing appeals. Cameras were installed in court room no. 49 to enable Kasab hear proceedings from jail.
Justifying the death penalty to Kasab, prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam displayed photographs and CDs showing him in terror acts and questioned the trial court's order which accepted Kasab's confession partially.
He said confession should be considered in toto and not in portions. Defence lawyer Amin Solkar argued that Kasab was not a terrorist and claimed the photos were morphed.
The CDs were not clear and showed some other person looking similar to Kasab. He alleged that police encounter at Girgaum was staged to implicate Kasab and denied the charge that he killed police officers Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar.
Solkar further argued that even if the police case was accepted Kasab, at the most, could be described as a contract killer and he cannot be charged with waging war against the nation, a serious offence under IPC.