A Delhi court deferred to April 17 the pronouncement of sentence against six militants of Jammu and Kashmir Islamic Front (JKIF) in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar blast case in which the prosecution has sought death penalty for four of the convicts.
District and Sessions Judge S P Garg, after hearing arguments on the quantum of sentence, said that he would pronounce the order on April 17 after perusing the various case laws filed by the prosecutor and the defence counsel. "Keeping in view the fact that 13 innocent persons lost their life in the blast, the four convicts do not deserve any leniency and be awarded the severest punishment that is death penalty," Additional Public Prosecutor S K Dass said. The prosecutor also demanded the maximum prescribed sentences against Farooq Ahmed Khan and lone woman convict Farida Dar who were convicted under milder penal provisions of the Explosive Substances Act and the Arms Act.
Countering the argument, senior advocate Aman Lekhi appearing for Farida, said "the convict lady has been acquitted of severe charges pertaining to murder and conspiracy. Punishing her just for the sake of awarding punishment would amount to following the retribution theory, which is a thing of past." Defence lawyer Khalil Ansari, appearing for the other five convicts, said, "the case does not fall under the rarest of rare category warranting imposition of the capital punishment as almost all the convicts were teenagers at the time of incident and could be reformed".
The court had on April eight convicted six out of ten suspected militants and rapped the police for "highly defective" probe and callous attitude. Six members of JKIF, Mohammed Naushad, Mohammed Ali Bhatt, Mirza Nissar Hussain, Javed Ahmed Khan, Farooq Ahmed Khan and woman associate Farida Dar were held guilty for varying roles in the sensational case.
Except Farooq Ahmed Khan and Farida Dar, the other four face the maximum punishment of death penalty as they have been convicted for serious offence of murder, conspiracy, and attempt to murder under the IPC. The remaining four--Mirza Iftikhar, Latif Ahmed Waza, Syed Maqbool Shah, and Abdul Gani--were acquitted of all the charges for want of sufficient evidence.