Sessions court reserves judgment even as Delhi Police seek death penalty for the Batla House encounter convict
Even as the Delhi police sought the award of death sentence for Shahzad Ahmad in connection with the shootout in the 2008 Batla House encounter, the court has reserved judgment on the question of quantum of sentence till Tuesday. The Bench was headed by Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Rajender Kumar Shastri. While the police termed the killing of police Inspector M.C. Sharma “rarest of rare” crime, defence counsel Satish Tamta contended that the shootout was a “spur of the moment” incident and not “premeditated”. Also, the victims were armed police officers and not helpless women or innocent children, argued Mr. Tamta.
The court had on Friday convicted Shahzad, a suspected Indian Mujahideen operative, for firing at police officials and causing the death of a police officer.
During the argument over the quantum of sentence, Special Public Prosecutor Satwinder Kaur argued that there were no mitigating circumstances in this case that called for a more lenient sentence.
“The police had no motive other than to apprehend the occupants. That is why the police identified themselves before entering the flat. But still they were fired upon,” argued Ms. Kaur while seeking death penalty for Shahzad.
She also argued that there was “no scope for rehabilitation or reform” in Shahzad’s case.
While the arguments were going on, dressed in a red-blue check shirt and jeans, Shahzad was seen calm and composed, listening intently to the arguments.
“While deciding the quantum of punishment, the court should think about not only the rights of the accused but also the rights of the victims, their families and the interest of society,” the Special Public Prosecutor argued adding that the convict was “involved in several heinous crimes.”
The judge rejected the prosecution's argument that Shahzad had a history of crime as he was also an accused in the 2008 Delhi serial blasts case. The judge said: “He will be presumed innocent till proven guilty.”
Defence counsel also said that Shahzad was 20-year-old student at the time of the incident. He argued that Shahzad still had a chance to reform as he had not been convicted in any other case.
“We still believe we are a reformative society and chance has to be given to reform. We have moved on from the eye-for-an-eye-and-tooth-for-a-tooth canon,” the senior advocate told the court while seeking leniency in the sentencing.
The encounter took place on September 19, 2008 between officers of the Special Cell of the Delhi Police and suspected terrorists at flat number 108 in L-18 of Batla House, resulting in the death of M.C. Sharma and two alleged terrorists. Shahzad was said to have fired at the police party while fleeing from the spot.