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A 'relieved' Tahaliyani gears up for life beyond Kasab

By Prasanna D Zore
May 07, 2010 15:39 IST

The nation is relieved and happy that a dreaded terrorist has been sentenced to death for the horrific crime of 26/11.

While people around the world minutely followed the trial of Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Kasab and gave off their opinion freely, there was one man who had to be fair and objective throughout.

First additional principal judge Madan Laxmandas Tahaliyani, who was promoted as principal judge of the sessions court even as the trial was underway, wound up the judicial process in just under a year at the end of which Kasab was sentenced to death on five counts.

The work-related stress of the last year was aggravated by the fact the judge had to even skip his exercise regimen to expedite the 26/11 trial. Now, he can resume it.

After a long time Tahaliyani will not be carrying stacks of case documents back home, as was his routine throughout the trial.

"I will travel home light today. With just my tiffin box and briefcase," the judge had said pointing to a corner room, where he kept his personal belongings, on Thursday after handing out the sentence.

Tahaliyani had asked Kasab, the first person whom he had ever sentenced to death, if he wanted to say anything before the death sentence was read out to him in Hindi so that Kasab could follow the fate awaiting him.

"Aapko Hindustan main aa kar khoon karne ke liye, Lashkar-e-Tayiba ke saath milkar Hindustan ke khilaaf jung chhedne ke liye aur aatankwadi gatividhiyon mein hissa lene ke liye sazaa-e-maut sunayi jaati hai (You have been sentenced to death for murder, waging war against India, criminal conspiracy and indulging in terrorist activities)," the judge had told Kasab.

Tahaliyani, who throughout the 26/11 trial exhibited fairness, wisdom, and impartiality towards everybody associated with the case even while being under national and international limelight, never betrayed his fatigue till May 6, the day he announced the sentence.

"I am tired as well as relieved now that the case is over. Tired because of the work pressure and relieved because the case has finally ended," he said a few hours after the sentence, as he went on a walk within the jail premises with his personal bodyguard in tow.

"When I will leave for home later today I will be travelling light," he had said on Thursday, looking at the future through the prism of his immediate past.
Prasanna D Zore in Mumbai