Judge Vijayakumar awarded two consecutive life sentences to Jabbar in the Kashmir terror recruitment case of the National Investigation Agency

For Judge S. Vijayakumar, the final orders in the Kashmir terror recruitment case of the National Investigation Agency marks his retirement from service as a judge. As he signed the final documents related to the case on Friday, he was officiating as judge of the NIA special court for the last time.

The judge, who took charge at the CBI court here in 2009, was originally scheduled to retire in April this year. However, he was asked to continue service until the completion of proceedings in the terror recruitment case.

At the final hearing in the case on Friday, the NIA argued for awarding capital punishment to Abdul Jabbar, who was found guilty of committing terrorist activities and waging war against the nation. Judge Vijayakumar awarded two consecutive life sentences to Jabbar. The Judge feels that the judicial system in the country is changing to awarding capital punishment in the rarest of cases. “We must always try for reformation. Even those who were sentenced today were not born terrorists,” he said. Even as he sentenced the convicts to life terms, he ordered that jail officials make an effort to reform them. “I request jail authorities to take necessary steps to impart lessons to the convicts on different aspects of basic features of the Constitution of India, including socialism and secularism,” the order said.

During his long career in the judiciary, the judge also heard high-profile cases such as the Kozhikode twin blasts case, the murder of Chekannur Moulavi, and the Arikkad Varghese shooting case.

The Kashmir recruitment case, in which the trial began in February this year, was completely held in-camera for the protection of the 186 witnesses who were heard. The case came with its own share of challenges for Judge Vijayakumar, an alumnus of the Trivandrum Government Law College. He received threats from associates of the accused, which prompted the government to provide additional security to the judge.

A poignant moment in the case was when two officers of the Army came on as witnesses in the case, says Judge Vijayakumar. “When the Army officers give their statement, it is almost as if you can feel their experience. When we are all asleep safely at night, the security forces are guarding our borders. We must always be conscious of that,” he said.

Judge Vijayakumar is ready for a further innings in law even as he retires. “Who knows what tomorrow holds? But I have worked in law all my life. We must always stay engaged,” he said.

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