The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Police want House convicts to die twice

New Delhi, Jan. 31: Delhi police moved court today, seeking enhancement of the sentence handed to the three convicts on death row in the Parliament attack case.

In their application to Delhi High Court, the police termed the trial court’s December 18 order as “bad in law”, leading to “great miscarriage of justice”. The “ultimate penalty” was needed to send a message to society, the petition said.

This is one of several instances when the prosecution has asked for a harsher sentence. But legal experts said they cannot recall any recent appeal which sought enhancement of punishment when the convicted have already been sentenced to death.

Special judge S.N. Dhingra had handed a death sentence to suspended Delhi University lecturer S.A.R. Geelani and Jaish-e-Mohammad militants Mohammad Afzal and Shaukat Hussain Guru on two counts — under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and for entering into criminal conspiracy to commit murder.

The prosecution has appealed for the life sentence awarded to them for waging war against the nation to also be converted into capital punishment. “It will not only act as a deterrent but also as a token of emphatic disapproval of the society because the crime committed is so shocking that it calls for the ultimate penalty,” the police argued.

Delhi police are also pushing for life sentences for the three on another count of collecting arms with the intention of waging war against the state and for attempt to murder. The trial court had handed sentences of 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment for these two offences.

The five-year sentence handed to Afsan Guru, wife of Shaukat Hussain, for not informing authorities of the conspiracy to storm Parliament is less than what it should have been, the police said. The prosecution wants Afsan, who lost her mental balance since being put behind bars, to serve 10 years. Her acquittal in other offences was also challenged on the grounds that she was aware that Afzal and her husband had fled the day Parliament was stormed.

High court Justices Usha Mehra and Pradeep Nandrajog have issued notices to the convicts in Tihar Jail. The case comes up for hearing on February 3, when their appeals against the lower court order and reference for confirming the death sentence issued to Afzal, Shaukat and Geelani would also be taken up.

Seema Gulati, Geelani’s lawyer in the trial court, said Delhi police’s latest appeal speaks of the “vicious attitude of the state.” “You can hang a person only once and not three or four times. Also, the consequence will not be greater if they seek death sentence on more than one counts.”

“...Case is not only the rarest of rare cases, it is the rarest case in the history of independent India as the attack on Parliament was the most dastardly as to the superlative degree on the democracy of the country and therefore no lenient view could be taken,” the police appeal for enhancing the sentence said.

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