The “brutality” of offences committed by Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the “depravity” of his mind and his “voluntary” act of becoming a terrorist as per the prosecution's case formed the basis for awarding the death sentence to the lone surviving attacker of 26/11.
The special sessions court in its reasoning for the sentence stated: “There is no evidence of mental or emotional disturbance. On the contrary, he [Kasab] appeared to be mentally prepared. The court has taken note that this man [Kasab] voluntarily went to the office of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. No leader took him there. He along with his friend Muzaffar went from place to place without being accompanied by anybody [from Lashkar]. He [Kasab] offered to become a mujahid. He was prepared to face all kinds of training. He refused the option of returning to his relatives' place and preferred to [remain at the training camp]. There is no chance of reformation or rehabilitation of such a person. The way he has committed the offence gives the court no scope for considering his reformation or rehabilitation.”
The court rejected the defence argument of moral justification for Kasab's crimes as it found it to be “frivolous.” It also rejected defence lawyer K.P. Pawar's contention that his client was acting under duress and domination of the Lashkar bosses.
“Where is the duress,” the court asked. “He and Muzaffar knocked on the door of the Lashkar office. He has shown no duress or domination. Instead, the delay in the attack [upset] him. He was anxious to attack India. He asked the wanted accused [of Lashkar] why there was a delay.”
The criterion of young age was rejected by the court in the light of “the aggravating factors as argued by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam on behalf of the State.”
“The murders were committed after previous planning. Not only was there previous planning, but meticulous and systematic planning with all the modern equipment available. All possible precautions were taken to see to it that the attack was a success. The court has accepted Mr. Nikam's argument,” judge M.L. Tahaliyani said.
In agreement with the prosecution's argument of unimaginable brutality, the court noted, “[The memory of] brutality was writ large on the faces of the witnesses. When you read the evidence of witnesses at CST [Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus], see the photographs of [photographer] Sebastian D'Souza, I don't think any words are required to describe the brutality. Some witnesses were not even ready to be police witnesses although having seen the incident, and some were not ready to come to court although their statement had been recorded by the police.”
Commenting on the incident, Mr. Tahaliyani said, “There are no words to explain the exceptional depravity seen in the initial stages of commission of offence. When he fired indiscriminately, it was without any regard; children and women were killed.”
The court also took into consideration that police officers and public servants were “assaulted, injured and killed” by Kasab and his associates.
Having listed the observations, Mr. Tahaliyani said, “It is difficult for me to prepare a balance sheet of aggravating and mitigating circumstances. The balance is totally in favour of the prosecution.”
The court took into account the observations made by the Supreme Court in Bacchan Singh vs. State of Punjab, 1980. However, it noted that the nature of crimes committed by Kasab and the other attackers were not in the sight of the apex court. “The facts of this case are very different. The circumstances are so aggravating that it is impossible to mitigate any of the circumstances.”
The judge also drew upon the principles of jurisprudence by jurist Salmond: “To enjoy an effective system of law we have to impose a penalty which [befits] the crime committed by the accused.” Referring to the case of Ankush Maruti vs. State of Maharashtra, he said, “Undue sympathy to give less penalty will do more harm to the justice system.” With reference to the case of Dhananjay Chatterjee alias Dhana vs. State of West Bengal, the court observed the rights of people at large need also to be considered along with the rights of the convict.
Mr. Nikam expressed his happiness for the verdict before the media. “Today we have been successful in giving justice to the victims of 26/11 and the departed souls. I also feel relieved on being discharged from Arthur Road jail. We did not fall for the foul games Kasab was trying to play. I think the Crime Branch officers, they deserve all the praise.”
Kasab's lawyer on the other hand said he was satisfied with the work he had done. “It was very difficult for me to defend; the evidence was voluminous. I did my job successfully and the court appreciated my efforts. The way I placed my case was the most important thing for me. I could find many good points. It's the court's jurisdiction whether to accept or reject the arguments. I am satisfied with my endeavours,” he said.
The court sentenced Kasab to life imprisonment for offences committed under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 307 (attempt to murder), 307 read with 109 (abetment) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 364 (kidnapping or abducting), 121 A (conspiracy to wage war), 122 (collecting arms with the intention of waging war), and Section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act.