Ajmal Amir Kasab “is a killing machine with no human feelings, and the manufacturing factory is in Pakistan.” Using such metaphors, the prosecution drove home its case for awarding the death penalty to the lone surviving gunman of the Mumbai terror attacks.
Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam compared Kasab to a dangerous weapon and sometimes to a wild and venomous animal. He cited a number of “aggravating circumstances” pertaining to 26/11 as listed by the Supreme Court in the case of Bacchan Singh vs. the State of Punjab, 1980.
Mr. Nikam said: “All the crimes of Kasab were carried out with focus, and with meticulous and detailed planning. Kasab mercilessly killed people by design and with dexterity. He along with Abu Ismail caused the death of 72 persons, including 14 policemen and seven children. Most of the victims were helpless and defenceless. They killed and injured people without discretion or distinction — young and old, Hindu and Muslims, civilians and police…Kasab is cruelty incarnate, completely bereft of humanity. He enjoyed the act of killing.”
Mr. Nikam referred to Kasab's confession to highlight the stark brutality of the crimes and the “depravity” of his mind. Kasab was unhappy on seeing smaller crowds at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST).
“Furthermore, even while recording his judicial confession, he was far from repentant. When asked by the magistrate about his reasons for confessing, he said more fidayeen would take inspiration from him. He was proud of what he had done,” Mr. Nikam said.
At the CST, “the death toll did not meet his expectations. No human being would say he is sorry for not killing as many as he wanted to…He killed [trawler Kuber's captain Amarsinh] Solanki in the most cruel manner. Death is the only penalty for such demons. His is not an ordinary criminal killing for pecuniary gains or under emotional distress; Kasab is an agent of the devil himself, a disgrace to society and the human race,” Mr. Nikam added.
Quoting a Sanskrit couplet, the prosecutor said he was in the same embarrassment as was the poet who said: “How does one describe the people who destroy the interest of others for nothing?”
The photographs of Kasab capturing him in the act were the true faces of the gunman, Mr. Nikam said. While the aggravating circumstances were many, the “mitigating circumstances,” which would call for the lesser sentence of life term, were none.
Rejecting the possibility that Kasab acted under the influence of others, the prosecutor said he had voluntarily gone to the office of the Lashkar-e-Taiba to get recruited. Kasab was “willing to kill wantonly” and there was no evidence of moral justification of his acts.
Mr. Nikam said: “Kasab is incorrigible. Death is the only the just penalty. With a lesser punishment, I fear, we will continue to remain a soft target for self-styled organisations. Kasab is a curse on society. His act is much more heinous than the act of silent death by hanging. This is the case where the accused must die to maintain the dignity of justice… We do not seek barbaric justice, but the society wants justice.”
Invoking the same principles of the Supreme Court, Kasab's lawyer K.P. Pawar argued that his client was under “extreme mental and emotional disturbance.” Led by the bosses of terror outfits, he was “mentally disturbed” and was shown a CD of post-Godhra massacre.
The court, however, pointed out that just because a person from another country was disturbed by the incident, it did not mean he or she “can come here and challenge the government.”
Mr. Pawar stressed the criterion of age, whereby a young or elderly accused is to be given the life term, adding Kasab fit into the young category. Given the age factor, there was the “probability” of Kasab being reformed and rehabilitated.
Kasab had “acted under the domination of the Lashkar's Hafiz Saeed, Abu Hamza and others. Religion blindfolded him. The terrorist organisation blindfolded him,” Mr. Pawar said.
“Ours is a civilised society, and an eye-for-an-eye approach should not be the criterion. Brutality is not a criterion for the rarest of rare cases. The personality of the accused and not the crime should be the point of consideration.”
The lawyer said Kasab was a poor, innocent and unemployed young man with no previous record of offences and, therefore, not “a hardened criminal,” which was the only class of criminals that could be given the death sentence.
Mr. Pawar said Kasab was impressionable. “He is 21 with no maturity to take proper decisions.”
The court, while pointing out to Mr. Pawar that Kasab had shown no sign of remorse, added: “The Supreme Court has said in its sentencing policy that the court should consider the public outcry against the crime and the criminal.”