Terror funding case | Delhi HC issues notice to Yasin Malik on NIA plea seeking his death penalty

The separatist leader is presently serving life imprisonment

May 29, 2023 02:25 pm | Updated 08:36 pm IST - New Delhi

JKLF leader Yasin Malik.

JKLF leader Yasin Malik. | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to separatist leader Yasin Malik, who is presently serving life imprisonment, on the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) plea seeking death penalty for him in a terror funding case.

A Bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh also ordered for production of Malik before the court on August 9.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the NIA, called for treating the matter as a “rarest of rare” case as Malik indulged in terrorist and secessionist activities.

Watch | Who is Yasin Malik?

Mr. Mehta reminded that Malik committed “sensational” killing of four IAF officers and even kidnapped the daughter of then Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed which led to the release of four dreaded criminals who masterminded the 26/11 attack in Mumbai in 2008.

On May 25, 2022, Malik was convicted by an NIA court in Delhi on charges of terrorism and was awarded life in prison. Malik had chosen not to contest the charges and instead pleaded guilty.

The Solicitor General said Malik had avoided death penalty by “tactfully” pleading guilty. “Any terrorist can come here, do terrorist activities, plead guilty and court says since he has pleaded guilty, I give him only life term and not capital punishment,” Mr. Mehta said, adding even Osama bin Laden would have been permitted to plead guilty here.

“We can’t compare this gentleman [Malik] with Bin laden because he [Bin Laden] nowhere stood trial anywhere,” the High Court responded.

“Possibly the U.S.A. was right,” the Solicitor General remarked, to which the Bench said it could not comment on matters affecting foreign relations.

The Solicitor General said Malik crossed over to Pakistan for training, was coordinating stone pelting and spreading “rumours” on social media about ‘oppression’ by security forces.

‘Rarest of rare case’

“If this is not ‘rarest of rare’ when someone is continuously, by armed rebellion, killing army people and propagating one region of the nation as separate, there can never be rarest of case. This is rarest of rare case [for awarding a death penalty]... If this is not, what could be,” he said.

Also Read | J&K parties caution against awarding death penalty to JKLF founder Yasin Malik

In its plea before the High Court for enhancement of the sentence to death penalty, the NIA said life sentence was not commensurate with the crime committed by terrorists when the nation and families of soldiers have suffered loss of lives.

Meanwhile, banned Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) on Monday termed the NIA’s plea on capital punishment for Malik “nefarious and politically motivated”.

“Malik was unfairly awarded life sentence by a special court in fake, concocted and frivolous cases. The NIA has now moved the court for a death penalty. Malik is the worst victim of political vendetta at the hands of the Government of India. It shows the political motivation of this agency and also the callous and undemocratic behaviour of the Indian government towards the Kashmiri political prisoners,” a JKLF spokesman said in a statement.

The spokesman said the Indian government had “enhanced its tyrant approach in Kashmir”. “Malik is being targeted for non-violent and peaceful political beliefs. Malik has contributed tremendously in the peaceful resolution of the Jammu Kashmir issue,” the spokesman said.

The JKLF has sought intervention from the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Meanwhile, BJP national general secretary and Jammu and Kashmir in-charge Tarun Chugh said Malik was receiving red carpet treatment from the Opposition parties, including the Abdullahs, the Muftis and the Congress.

“Malik, responsible for bloodshed in Kashmir for more than 40 years, should be punished with the most stringent punishment for his subversive and divisive role,” he said.

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