The Maharashtra government submitted to the Bombay High Court a CD of CCTV footage of Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab assaulting jail staff and opposed his plea for a closed-door interview with his lawyers. The high court is hearing confirmation of death sentence awarded to Kasab for his role in the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.
Government counsel Ujjwal Nikam presented the footage to a bench headed by Justice Ranjana Desai which will view the CD in chambers on Monday evening and pronounce an order on Wednesday on Kasab's plea for a legal interview within the sight of security staff but not within hearing distance.
Nikam told the judges, "The incident occurred on September 1, when Kasab was performing some illegal act and jail staff had to intervene. He (Kasab) assaulted prison officials which is clearly shown in the CD."
"Kasab is a trained commando and with swift movements he can pose a great danger to his own life as well as to that of the guards," Nikam said and submitted an affidavit filed by the jailor opposing Pakistani national's request for an interview with lawyers which should not be within hearing distance of jail staff.
Kasab's lawyer Amin Solkar argued that Kasab was very uncomfortable in answering questions put to him and demanded that they (lawyers) be allowed to interview him all alone and not in the presence of jail staff or police.
Nikam informed the high court that after the September 1 incident when Kasab became unruly and assaulted jail staff, the authorities were closely monitoring his movements in the jail round-the-clock through CCTV. An officer is kept present all the time within four feet distance of Kasab, he said. Even during the trial, Kasab had tried to endanger his own life as well as that of jail staff, Nikam told the bench.
Kasab's lawyer Amin Solkar submitted that communication between a lawyer and his client was privileged. Nikam argued that the question of taking or giving instructions to the prisoner at this stage did not arise as the evidence is already over and as such there cannot be any privilege communication between the lawyer and client.
The jailor, Rajendra Dhamane, in an affidavit, said that Kasab was a well trained commando in handling various weapons and made very swift movements in the cell. The presence of jail officers near him was essential at the time of interview with lawyers to control his aggressive movements, he said.
Normally, one jail guard is deployed for a convicted prisoner but considering the "dangerous nature and wild behaviour" of Kasab, jail officers are deployed round-the-clock and CCTV camera installed to monitor his movements, the jailor said.
He cited rule 11 of Maharashtra Prisons Rules, 1962, which provide that every interview with a convicted prisoner shall take place in the presence and hearing of a jail staff. The rule also provides that during such interview, a prisoner under sentence of death and his friends or legal advisors shall not be allowed to approach each other.
On September 20, the High Court had asked Kasab's lawyer to meet him in jail and find out whether he wanted to appear in person for hearing confirmation of his death sentence. However, prosecution objected to Kasab's presence in the court saying he had a threat perception. The court then suggested that Kasab can attend the proceedings through video conference and directed the state to provide this facility at both ends (in the court and jail) from October 18.
Kasab is lodged in Central Prison at Arthur Road jail in a bomb and bullet proof cell which is heavily guarded by Indo-Tibetan Border Security personnel. On May 6, a special court had sentenced Kasab to death for killing 166 people in the terror attacks along with nine other Pakistani nationals. While Kasab was caught alive on the day of terror attack (November 26, 2008), others were slain by security forces.