SC upholds death for Afzal, acquittal of Geelani

New Delhi, August 4:

The Supreme Court today upheld the death sentence of Mohammad Afzal — a key accused in the 2001 attack on Indian parliament that jolted the nation — while letting Delhi University teacher SAR Geelani off the hook. The court also commuted the death sentence of another accused, Shaukat Hussain Guru, to 10 years imprisonment and Rs.25,000 fine, stating he was not a part of the criminal conspiracy behind the parliament attack. The court upheld the acquittal of Geelani and Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru (Shaukat Hussain’s wife) by the Delhi High Court in 2003. Delhi Police had appealed to the SC against the high court verdict freeing Afsan and Geelani of the charge of plotting the audacious attack on the lawmaking institution of the country. A bench comprising judges P.V. Reddy and P.P. Naolekar, while imposing death sentence on Afzal, described the parliament attack as “one of the rarest of rare cases warranting imposition of capital punishment”. Upholding the acquittal of Geelani, the court observed that there could be suspicion about his knowledge of the conspiracy in the way he rejoiced while the incident was taking place. But in the absence of concrete and unimpeachable evidence he could not be convicted on mere suspicion.