While awarding death to 38 convicts in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts case, a special court in its sternly-worded order said that allowing them to live in society would be akin to releasing a “man-eater leopard” in public.
In the judgement, a copy of which was made available on Saturday (February 19), the court also said that in its opinion, the death sentence will be reasonable as the case falls in the “rarest of the rare” category.
The order copy was released a day after the court sentenced to death 38 members and life terms to 11 members of terrorist organisation Indian Mujahideen (IM) for the Ahmedabad bombings which killed 56 people and injured over 200 on July 26, 2008.
Also read: Ahmedabad blasts: Kin of convicts question judgment
It was for the first time in the country that a maximum number of death sentences were handed down by a court in one go.
“The convicts created unrest in a peaceful society and carried out anti-national activities while living here. They have no respect for the constitutionally-elected government at the Centre and in Gujarat, and a few believe only in ‘Allah’ and not in the government or the judiciary,” special judge AR Patel said in the order.
The court said there was no need for the government to keep the convicts in jail, especially those who said they believed only in their God and none others, adding there is no jail in the country that can keep them lodged forever.
“If such people are allowed to remain in the society, it will be like releasing a man-eater leopard in public. Such convicts are like a man-eater leopard that eats innocents in society, including children, youth, elderly, women, men, newborns, and people of different caste and communities,” the judge said in the order.
The prosecution had sought death sentence for all the 49 convicts in the blasts case, including those who planned the attack and those who executed it.
“For the people carrying out such terrorist activities, death sentence is the only option, for the sake of peace and safety of the country and its people,” the court said about the 38 convicts.
Handing down life sentences to 11 other convicts till the end of their natural life, the court said their crime was less severe compared to the main conspirators.
“They took part in the conspiracy along with the main conspirators, and took part in terror training camps in the jungles in Halol-Pavagadh in Gujarat and Vaghmon in Kerala on their own accord, but their role in the crime does not involve death sentence,” the court observed.
“But, if they get anything less than imprisonment till their last breath, then these convicts will again commit similar crimes and will help others, is also certain,” it said.
Responding to arguments of some convicts that they were framed because they were Muslims, the court said it cannot accept this, because in India, there are crores of Muslims who live as law-abiding citizens.
“Why did the investigating officers arrest only these people? Others should have been arrested had they also been involved in the case. The investigating officers are responsible people,” the court said.
The police had claimed that members of the IM, a radicalised faction of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), were behind the Ahmedabad blasts which were planned to avenge the 2002 post-Godhra riots in Gujarat that claimed the lives of over 1,000 people, most of them from the Muslim community.
While 38 accused were convicted by the court under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 302 (murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) and provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 11 others were held guilty for criminal conspiracy and also under various sections of the UAPA, the prosecution had said.
The court imposed a fine of ₹2.85 lakh on 48 convicts and ₹2.88 lakh on another convict. It also awarded compensation of ₹1 lakh to the kin of those who died in the blasts, ₹50,000 to those who were seriously injured and ₹25,000 to those who received minor injuries.