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Indian Case Summary

State (N.C.T. Of Delhi) vs Navjot Sandhu@ Afsan Guru on 4 August, 2005 – Case Summary

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In the case of State (N.C.T. Of Delhi) vs Navjot Sandhu@ Afsan Guru on 4 August, 2005, the Supreme Court of India was faced with a matter of grave national importance. The case was a direct outcome of the audacious attack on the Indian Parliament on 13th December, 2001, an event that sent shock waves across the globe. The incident involved five heavily armed terrorists who stormed the Parliament House complex, causing heavy casualties among the security personnel on duty. The terrorists were ultimately killed, but not before nine people, including eight security personnel and a gardener, had lost their lives, and 16 others were injured.

The case was heard by a bench comprising P. Venkatarama Reddi and P.P. Naolekar. The appellants in the case were the State (N.C.T. Of Delhi) and the respondents were Navjot Sandhu@ Afsan Guru. The judgment was delivered on 4th August, 2005.

Facts of the Case

The case was initiated following an extensive investigation that spanned 17 days. The investigation revealed the involvement of four accused persons, who were either appellants or respondents in the case, and some other proclaimed offenders said to be the leaders of the banned militant organization known as “Jaish-E-Mohammed”. The accused were charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA), and the Explosive Substances Act.

The accused were Mohd. Afzal, Shaukat Hussain Guru, S.A.R. Gilani, and Navjot Sandhu @ Afsan Guru. The first three were convicted for various offences under the IPC, POTA, and the Explosive Substances Act. Navjot Sandhu @ Afsan Guru was acquitted of all charges except one under Section 123 IPC, for which she was sentenced to five years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine. The other three accused were sentenced to death for the offence under Section 302 read with Section 120-B IPC and Section 3(2) of POTA.

Issues and Court Observations

The case raised several significant issues, including the validity of the confessions made by the accused, the legality of the phone tapping evidence, and the admissibility of the evidence obtained from the laptop computer seized from the accused.

The court observed that the attack on the Parliament House was a grave incident that had the potential to destabilize the nation. It noted that the evidence presented by the prosecution, including the call records, the recovery of explosives, and the confessions of the accused, pointed towards a well-planned conspiracy to attack the Parliament.

Ruling

The High Court dismissed the appeals of Mohd. Afzal and Shaukat Hussain Guru and confirmed the death sentence imposed on them. It allowed the appeals of S.A.R. Gilani and Navjot Sandhu @ Afsan Guru and acquitted them of all charges. The State also filed an appeal seeking enhancement of the life sentence to the death sentence in relation to their convictions under Sections 121, 121A, and 302 IPC. The State also appealed against the acquittal of the 4th accused on all charges other than the one under Section 123 IPC.

The Supreme Court upheld the death sentences of Mohd. Afzal and Shaukat Hussain Guru, while acquitting S.A.R. Gilani and Navjot Sandhu @ Afsan Guru of all charges. The court’s decision was based on a thorough examination of the evidence and the law, and it emphasized the need to deal with acts of terrorism with an iron hand.