New Delhi: The Supreme Court today awarded rigorous life imprisonment to Pakistan national and Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Ghulam Nabi in a case relating to the 1995 serial blasts at a Republic Day function in Jammu that had claimed eight lives. A bench of Justices A K Sikri and U U Lalit awarded the punishment to 76-year-old Nabi, a resident of Sialkot district in Pakistan.
“Pursuant to our directions in July 1 judgment, the convict Gulam Nabi was taken into custody and has been produced before this court for the hearing. We are of the view that ends of justice would be met by awarding life sentence for the offences under sections 3 and 4 of TADA and section 302 and 120 (B) of the Ranbir Penal Code.
“The convict is accordingly awarded rigorous imprisonment for life for aforesaid offences which would run concurrently,” the bench said. During brief arguments on quantum of sentence, the counsel for the convict sought leniency saying that Nabi was 76 years old and has been suffering from various ailments and moreover, has been in jail since 1995.
The bench did not accept the prosecution’s plea that Nabi be given life sentence separately for each offences and the punishment should run consequently as the government has the power to grant remission. “He was acquitted by the trial court and we have reversed the judgment of acquittal. Apart from his confession, here is nothing against him. In totality of the circumstances, we cannot give death sentence,” the bench said.
The accused was acquitted by the TADA court in 2009. However on July 1, the apex court had set aside his acquittal in the case. Three bomb explosions had taken place in the Maulana Azad Memorial Stadium in Jammu aimed to kill then Governor Lt General K V Krishna Rao during his address to a huge gathering of about 40,000 people, including dignitaries, VIPs, senior government officers, political leaders and citizens on Republic Day in 1995. Rao had a narrow escape.
The powerful blasts, which had occurred in the stadium, including one near the dais and another on the road outside, had killed eight persons and caused grievous injuries to eighteen others.
The apex court had earlier upheld the acquittal of another accused Wasim Ahmed, a Jammu and Kashmir resident, saying that nothing was placed on record to establish his role in the conspiracy and execution thereof. The judgement had come on the appeal by Jammu and Kashmir government against a trial court decision acquitting both Nabi and Ahmed who were accused of charges under provisions of the TADA Act, the Ranbir Penal Code and the Explosives Substances Act.
The trial court in J&K had in 2009 absolved the accused of the offences while rejecting evidence regarding the confessional statement of Ghulam Nabi on the ground that since he was a Pakistani, his language must be Urdu and his statement was recorded in Hindi which is not his language.