Instead of trying for reformation of criminal mind, they should be punished: Court

Mumbai: A special court that sentenced three men to ten years imprisonment on Tuesday for being members of banned organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and conspiring to attack right-wing leaders, has said in a 229-page judgment made available on Friday that instead of trying for reformation of their criminal mind, they should be punished.

Mohd Muzammil Gani, 37, Mohd Sadique Farookh and Mohd Akram – were convicted for offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Gani sentenced additionally under the Arms Act. Two co-accused Mohd. Ilyas, 35 (brother of Akram) and Mohd Irfan were acquitted of all charges.

After examining evidence, the court concluded that looking into the facts and circumstances of the case, prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mohd Akram had joined Lashkar-e-Taiba and that he was incited and motivated by the wanted accused and that he had instigated Mohd Muzammil Gani to procure weapons and Gani was found in possession of firearm and cartridges. Further, Gani and Sadique were found possessing photographs of human targets.

Some offences under UAPA, the trio was found guilty of, such as conspiring to commit a terror act and being a member of a terrorist organization are punishable by a life term

While deciding the quantum of sentence, it observed on the point of reformation of accused that while it is true that reformative theory can work fruitfully in the case of non-habitual offenders, but that there are some criminals who cannot be reformed.

Special judge under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act Dinesh E Kothalikar said he finds substance in the submission of defence advocate Wahab Khan that at the initial stage of the trial, the accused had shown their intention to plead guilty, but the same was not accepted by the court.

In a rare act, the court also issued notice to a witness for giving false evidence. The witness, a member of a political party, had turned hostile during the trial. He had denied his statements recorded before a magistrate in which he had revealed extensively regarding the conduct of Mohd Akram and his inciting youth into terror activities. The NIA had sought that the witness be tried for perjury. The court said that considering the version of the witness, that as his financial condition was not sound and accused Akram used to extend financial help to him, there is every reason to believe that he was under the accused’s obligation and, therefore, he has deposed falsely in favour of the accused to save him from being punished legally for the offences committed by him.

Judge Kothalikar concluded that there was a ‘deliberate and conscious’ attempt on the part of this witness to misguide the court and interfere in the administration of justice. It said that it is necessary and expedient in the interest of justice that the witness should be tried summarily for giving false evidence. It has directed the witness to be present before it on 22 July to show cause why he should not be punished for giving false evidence.

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