New Delhi, May 21(PTI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted life to two death-row convicts in the 2002 American Center attack case in Calcutta, but said the mastermind will remain behind bars till death and the other will spend at least 30 years in jail without remission.
A bench of justices A K Patnaik and F.M. Ibrahim Khalifulla upheld the conviction of the mastermind Aftab Ahmad Ansari and Jamiluddin Nasir but said death is not warranted in the case.
The court passed the order on appeals filed by Ansari and Nasir challenging a Calcutta High Court order that had confirmed the death sentence awarded to them by a trial court.
In 2010, the apex court had stayed the death sentence awarded to them.
Two motorcycle-borne men had indiscriminately fired with an AK-47 assault rifle at policemen outside the American Center on Jawaharlal Nehru Road on January 22, 2002, killing six of them and injuring 14 others.
In February 2010, a division bench of the Calcutta High Court had upheld the death sentence of Ansari along with co-accused Jamiluddin Nasir but commuted the capital punishment awarded to three others to seven years imprisonment.
The sessions court in April 2005 had sentenced Ansari, Nasir and three others to death while acquitting two others.
Just four days after the attack, two persons -- Salim and Zahid -- were injured in an encounter with a Delhi Police team in Hazaribagh in Jharkhand and they subsequently died. The police had come to know about the involvement of Ansari in the American Center attack from their dying declarations.
Ansari was arrested from Dubai thereafter and was deported to India on February 9, 2002, to face trial. He was part of terror outfit Asif Reza Commando Force (ARCF) that reportedly had links with Harkat-ul-Jehadi-e-Islam.