The Delhi Police on Monday sought death penalty for the lone suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Shahzad Ahmed convicted in the 2008 Batla House encounter for killing decorated police officer M C Sharma and injuring two other cops.

Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) Rajender Kumar Shastri, after hearing arguments of the prosecution and the defence, however, reserved for Tuesday his verdict on the quantum of sentence to be awarded to Shahzad.

During the arguments on the point of sentence, Special Public Prosecutor Satwinder Kaur sought death penalty for Shahzad saying there are no mitigating circumstances in this case and the convict is involved in several heinous crimes.

“One senior police officer (Inspector M C Sharma) was killed and two other officers (head constables Balwant Singh and Rajbir Singh) were injured while performing their duty,” she said.

Reformation

Citing Supreme Court verdicts in Devenderpal Singh Bhullar and Ajmal Kasab cases, the prosecutor said just like those cases, this case has also shocked the collective conscience of society.

She added there is no scope for Shahzad’s reformation and rehabilitation and seeing the nature of crimes he is involved in, he will continue to be a “threat to society“.

Outside the court complex also, over 50 residents of Paharganj area, where one of the blasts had taken place on September 13, 2008, had gathered and demanded death penalty for Shahzad.

Some of them had lost family members or friends in the attack, while others had helped with the rescue efforts to get the injured to hospitals.

Leniency sought

Advocate Satish Tamta, appearing for Shahzad sought leniency for his client saying the present case does not fall under the rarest of rare category.

Mr. Tamta said the crime was committed on the spur of the moment without any premeditation.

The defence counsel argued that there is chance to reform Shahzad as he has not been convicted in any other case.

Mr. Tamta while seeking leniency in the sentencing also said that Shahzad was 20—year—old at the time of the incident and was still studying.

The prosecutor, however, opposed his submissions and said Shahzad fired on police officers who had gone to the flat in Jamia Nagar to apprehend its occupants and had even identified themselves as cops.

She said that Shahzad is involved in five other cases concerning the September 13, 2008 serial blasts in Delhi which had claimed 26 lives and injured 133 others.

The prosecution also said while awarding any punishment, the court should also take into account the pain of the family of inspector Sharma.

Security was beefed up at the court premises on Monday with police personnel carrying teargas shells clearing a substantial area near the courtroom.

On July 25, Shahzad was convicted for the offences of murder, attempting to cause death and various other provisions of the IPC and the Arms Act.

The court had also found him guilty of assaulting police officers and obstructing them from doing their duty.

Without questioning the genuiness of the encounter, the ASJ had said that instead of assisting the raiding team which had arrived at Flat 108, L—18, Batla House, the occupants, including Shahzad, had fired at it.

Preparedness questioned

However, the court while convicting Shahzad had raised questions over preparedness of the raiding police party which was not having bullet proof jackets or adequate number of weapons while trying to apprehend the suspected IM militants whose activities came to light for the first time in 2008.

Was it “misadventure or lack of professionalism or scarcity of weapons?” it had wondered.

The judge had preferred to leave aside the controversy raised from certain quarters about the alleged affiliation of Shahzad with banned militant outfit IM, which is accused of carrying out a number of terror strikes in the country since 2007.

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