As sole 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab awaits his fate, legal experts say it may easily take up to a year before he could actually be hanged. If the Mumbai special court hearing the case awards him the death penalty, Kasab's counsel has three options ahead.
If the special court holds Kasab guilty as expected, it will be followed by another round of arguments pertaining to the sentence. The public prosecutor will obviously seek the death penalty, while the defence would seek a reduction in sentence.
If the sessions court hands Kasab the death sentence, the order would need confirmation from the high court.
The immediate impact of the legal proceedings before the high court would be that the special court's verdict will be stayed. The high court will hear fresh arguments in the case before upholding or overturning the special court's verdict. If the high court confirms the verdict, the onus will entirely be on Kasab to go in appeal before the Supreme Court.
Once an appeal is filed before the Supreme Court, the verdict of the high court is stayed and another round of arguments would commence. If Kasab does not get relief from the Supreme Court, he could then seek a pardon from the Presiden who has the last word in the case.
Former Supreme Court judge N Santhosh Hegde says this could easily take another year. There are several procedures involved and at each stage there would be fresh arguments. However, since it is a very high profile case, all these courts could take up the matter out of turn and speed up the process. Even then, it could easily take another eight months before the matter goes to the President, says Hegde.
If the special court sentences Kasab to death, the jail manual and the Code of Criminal Procedure mandate that he be moved to another jail, most likely to Yerawada jail in Maharashtra where death row convicts are kept.
However, considering the threats to Kasab, judge M Tahaliyani could rule that he be kept in the high-security Arthur Road jail itself till his hanging, when he will be taken to Yerawada jail.