Shahzad Ahmad fined Rs. 95,000, and Rs. 40,000 from the sum will be given to the family of the inspector killed in the encounter

Shahzad Ahmad, convicted for his role in the 2008 Batla House encounter, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court here on Wednesday.

The court also imposed a fine of Rs. 95,000 on him, and Rs. 40,000 from it will be given to the family of Special Cell Inspector M.C. Sharma, who was killed in the encounter. S. Qamar, one of the lawyers of Shahzad, said he would appeal against the verdict in higher courts.

On Thursday, the Court of Additional Sessions Judge Rajender Kumar Shastri convicted Shahzad, 25, for firing at police officers, causing the death of Sharma.

The Delhi Police had sought the death penalty for Shahzad, arguing that his crime constituted the rarest of rare cases and there was “no scope for [his] rehabilitation and reform.” The court, however, rejected the prosecution’s plea. “Ruminating on the facts of the case and the circumstances of the convict, I find mitigating circumstances more than aggravating ones, and hence the case … is not a ‘rarest of the rare case,’ which warrants the death penalty upon the convict,” the judge said.

One of the aggravating circumstances which the court cited includes attempts by Shahzad to obstruct police officers from doing their job by attacking them and killing Sharma in the process. Rejecting the police argument that Shahzad had a history of “heinous crime,” the judge expressed the hope that there “are chances of his being reformed and return to the mainstream of society.”

“Admittedly, this convict has not been found guilty till now, of any offence he has been charged with. An accused is presumed innocent till he is proven guilty is an oft-cited tenet of law. God willing, the convict would have learnt values of civilised society,” the judge added.

One of the several mitigating circumstances was that “the convict is a young boy, aged 24-25 years, stated to be a student.” Another factor was that the incident at Flat No. 108, L-18, Batla House, was “not premeditated and occurred in the spur of the moment.”

The encounter took place on September 19, 2008 between officers of the Special Cell of the Delhi Police and suspected terrorists, resulting in the death of Sharma and two alleged terrorists. Shahzad was said to have fired at the police party while fleeing.

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