Observing that the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks had shocked the collective conscience of Indian people, the Supreme Court on Wednesday confirmed the death sentence awarded to the prime accused, Ajmal Kasab, by the trial court and affirmed by the Bombay High Court, for waging war against India.
In its 398-page judgment, a Bench of Justices Aftab Alam and C.K. Prasad said: “This case has the element of conspiracy as no other case. The appellant was part of a conspiracy hatched across the border to wage war against the government of India, and lethal arms and explosives were collected with the intention of waging war against the government of India.”
The Bench rejected Kasab’s argument that he was not given a fair trial. It accepted the argument of senior counsel for Maharashtra Gopal Subramanium that he was given legal assistance right from the stage of trial, and said Kasab’s plea (that he was not given legal assistance from the beginning), by itself, would not vitiate the proceedings.
Writing the judgment, Justice Alam said: “The conspiracy was to launch a murderous attack on Mumbai, regarding it as the financial centre of the country; to kill as many Indians and foreign nationals as possible; to take Indians and foreign nationals… hostages for using them as bargaining chips in regard to the terrorists’ demands; and to try to incite communal strife and insurgency, all with the intent to weaken the country from within. In short, this is a case of terrorist attack from across the border. It has a magnitude of unprecedented enormity on all scales. The conspiracy… was as deep and large as it was vicious. The preparation and training for the execution was as thorough as the execution was ruthless. In terms of loss of life and property, and more importantly in its traumatising effect, this case stands alone, or it is at least the very rarest of rare to come before this court since the birth of the Republic. Therefore, it should also attract the rarest of rare punishments.”