After delivering the judgment awarding death sentence to Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested during the terror siege of Mumbai on November 26, 2008, judge Madan Lalkshman Tahaliyani officially recorded his appreciation for Rakesh Maria, former head of the crime branch who investigated the case, and his assistant Deven Bharti.
The judge also didn't forget the press. "This was an open trial, although entry (to the court room) was restricted. But, because of media-persons, there was openness," he said, and added, "I have ensured that there was no restriction on reporting."
Incidentally, the ongoing trial of 26/11 suspects in Pakistan is being held in-camera, and media-persons have been barred from attending the proceedings.
In the last one year, since the 26/11 trial commenced in a special court in Mumbai, reporting by the media has remained largely free of controversy. Only once was a Mumbai daily served a notice for incorrect reporting, but the issue was settled amicably out of court.
The judge also said, "By and large, the media reported the case very well. You have done an excellent job."
He also thanked special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and other lawyers connected with the case.
Judge Tahaliyani said, "This case being an exceptional case, I should appreciate that without help from my staff, I could not have done my job at this speed."
He also thanked the jail authorities and government departments who had set up the fast-track court in record time.
After the completion of Thursday's session, Judge Tahaliyani interacted with a few media-persons.
When rediff.com asked him, "Do you endorse the view that this was an open and shut case?" he smiled and said, "No questions, please. Read the judgment and decide for yourself. Judicial officers are not supposed to speak."
But he admitted that he was feeling relieved. He jokingly said, "Now I won't get so many reporters around me."
This is the first time in his almost 10-year-stint as judge that he has awarded the death sentence to a convict.