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American Center attack case: SC commutes death sentence

The Supreme Court today commuted the death sentence of two convicts in the 2002 American Center attack case in Kolkata, ordering that the mastermind will remain behind bars till death while the other will spend at least 30 years in jail without remission.

Describing the terror attack as “devilish, diabolic, horrendous, vicious” impinging on the sovereign authority of the country, a bench of justices A K Patnaik and F M Ibrahim Khalifulla upheld the conviction of the mastermind Aftab Ahmad Ansari and Jamiluddin Nasir.

It said death is not warranted in the case “though it calls for other deterrent punishment”.

“Appellant Aftab deserves to be imprisoned for the entirety of his life while in the case of appellant Nasir he can be imposed with a life imprisonment for a minimum period of 30 years,” Justice Khalifulla, who wrote the judgement, said adding “the role of Nasir was always a shade lesser than what can be attributed to Aftab”.

Referring to various verdicts of the apex court including in Red Fort, Parliament and Mumbai terror attack cases, the bench said facts of those cases were different from the present case and cannot be used for the purpose of deciding the sentence to be imposed on the accused.

“Therefore, even while holding that the charges found proved against the appellant are of grave in nature, when it comes to the question of sentence we wish to hold that the imposition of death penalty is not warranted in the facts and circumstances of the case though it calls for other deterrent punishment,” it said.

“In the ultimate analysis, the act of the accused/ assailants was not a mere desperate act of a small group, but was an act of higher magnitude with a clear object and determination to impinge on the sovereign authority of the nation and its Government,” it said.

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