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KEY TAKEAWAYS

A Delhi court awarded death penalty to convict Ariz Khan (alias Junaid) on Monday in relation to the Batla House encounter killing of 2008. The Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav convicted Khan of the murder of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma on March 8, along with charges related to attempt to murder, obstructing public servant on duty, causing grievous hurt and non-appearance despite being declared a proclaimed officer. While awarding the death sentence, the Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav termed the offence as the ‘rarest of the rare case’ deserving the maximum sentence under the law. The Court imposed a fine of Rs. 11 lacs on him, out of which Rs. 10 lacs shall be awarded to the family of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, who was killed in the encounter.

BRIEF ACCOUNT

On September 19, 2008, two Indian Mujahideen terrorists, named Atif Ameen and Mohd. Sajid, were killed during the encounter. The encounter also claimed the life of Delhi Police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma, who had got shot in the gunfight between the parties. The Delhi Police Special Cell team reached flat 108 of L-18 Batla House, headed by Inspector Sharma, on receiving a tip. After the said encounter the accused Ariz Khan escaped the scene and was declared as a proclaimed offender.

Khan was arrested by the Delhi Police in 2018 from Banbasa in Uttarakhand, that shares border with Nepal. According to the Police, he had managed to acquire a Nepali citizenship card and passport under a false name ‘Mohammad Salim’. The National Investigation Agency and the Delhi Police had declared a reward of Rs. 10 lacs and Rs. 5 lacs respectively, for qany kind of information or intel on him.

In 2013, a trial court had also convicted Indian Mujahideen operative Shahzad Ahmad to life imprisonment for the murder of constables Balwant Singh and Rajbir Singh during the encounter. The Court had pronounced the accused to be guilty of murder, attempt to murder, obstructing and assaulting public servants during duty and grievously injuring the police to distract them from performing their duty.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS

The Court declared its sentence on Monday, to which Senior Public Prosecutor A.T. Ansari, appearing for the Delhi Police, sought death penalty for Khan. While

Khan’s counsel insisted on a lighter sentence based on the grounds of parity and young age, Ansari remarked that the ‘collective conscience of society’ was shook due to the brutal killing of the inspector. It was observed that some of the police officials were not even carrying arms, thus proving that they had no intention to kill any occupants of the flat in 2008. The police officials did not fire at the accomplice Mohd. Said, who had surrendered before the police after locking himself inside the bathroom. The Court thus observed the following,

“Convict on account of his despicable act has forfeited his right to live. After balancing mitigating circumstances against aggravating circumstances, it is concluded that it is the rarest of the rare case where convict deserves maximum sentence provided under the law. It is the level of magnitude, degree of brutality, attitude and mindset of wrongdoer behind the crime along with other factors which makes it a rarest of rare case. Protection of society and deterring criminal is an avowed object of law and this is required to be achieved by imprisonment appropriate sentence. The most appropriate sentence for convict like Ariz Khan will be death penalty. Interest of justice will be met if convict is awarded death penalty.”

The Court also noted that two deadly weapons like AK-47 and two pistols were also found at the flat where the shootout occurred.

“It should not be forgotten that deadly weapons like AK-47 and two pistols were retrieved from the flat where the shootout took place. The defence has not able to clarify as to for which purpose these deadly weapons were kept by the convict and his accomplices in the flat. Considering the nature of devastation that these weapons can cause, it will be safe to conclude that these weapons were kept in the flat with a view to indulge terrorist and anti-social activities.”

The following punishments were awarded to the convict by the Sessions Court:

(i) Sentence to death for offence of section 302 of IPC and fine of Rs. 10 lacs. He shall be hanged by neck till he is dead. In default of payment of fine, convict shall undergo simple imprisonment for 6 months.

(ii) Convict to be sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 3 months for section 186 of IPC.

(iii) Sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and fine of Rs. 20,000 for section 333 of IPC. In default of payment of fine, convict shall undergo simple imprisonment for 6 months.

(iv) Sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 2 years for section 353 of IPC.

(v) Sentenced to imprisonment for life and fine of Rs. 20,000 for offence punishable under section 307 IPC. In default of payment of fine, convict shall undergo simple imprisonment for 6 months.

(vi) Sentenced to simple imprisonment of 7 years and fine of Rs. 10,000 for section 174A of IPC.

(vii) Sentenced to simple imprisonment of 3 years and fine of Rs. 50,000 for section 27 of Arms Act.

(viii) Sentences shall run consecutively.

“It has been proved on record that on 19 September 2008 at about 11 am at flat no. 108 L-18, Batla House, Jamla Nagar, New Delhi, accused Ariz Khan @ Junaid along with his associated Mohd. Atif Ameen and Mohd. Sajid (both died in the shootout with members of raiding team) and Mohd. Shahzad @ Pappu (already subjected to trial and convicted) in furtherance of their common intention of all of them voluntarily obstructed deceased Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma and his team in discharge of their public functions.”

CONCLUSION

The Court convicted Ariz Khan under section 186, 333, 353, 302, 307, 174A, 34 of the IPC, and section 27 of the Arms Act. Observing that there is no chance of reformation of the convict Ariz Khan, the Court thus concluded that the brutal act of firing at policemen without any provocation poses him as a threat to not only the society, but also as an enemy of the State.


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