The Delhi High Court has issued a notice to separatist leader Yasin Malik, who is currently serving a life term, following a plea by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) seeking the death penalty for him in a terror funding case.
The bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh has also issued production warrants for Malik's appearance before the court on August 9. The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the NIA, argued that Malik had engaged in terrorist and secessionist activities, warranting the death penalty as a "rarest of rare" case.
On May 24, 2022, a trial court had sentenced Malik to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of various offenses under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Malik had pleaded guilty to the charges, including those under the UAPA, leading to his conviction and life sentence.
The NIA, in its plea before the high court seeking enhancement of the sentence to death penalty, expressed concerns that if "dreaded terrorists" like Malik are not given capital punishment despite pleading guilty, it would undermine the sentencing policy and provide an escape route for terrorists.
The NIA argued that a life sentence is insufficient considering the gravity of the crimes committed by terrorists and the loss of lives suffered by the nation and the families of soldiers. The NIA also criticized the trial court's conclusion that Malik's crimes did not fall within the category of the "rarest of rare cases" deserving of the death penalty, describing it as legally flawed and unsustainable.
According to the reports by Hindustan Times, during the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the NIA, made a comparison between Malik and slain al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, stating that "If Osama Bin Laden was before this court, he would also get the same treatment." However, Justice Mridul disagreed, stating that there can be no comparison as Bin Laden never faced trial in any court of law worldwide. Mehta then remarked, "I think the US was correct," to which Justice Mridul declined to comment.
The Solicitor General stated that Malik had killed four Indian Air Force (IAF) officers and had also abducted the daughter of the former home minister to secure the release of terrorists who later orchestrated the 26/11 terror attacks. Malik's conviction came after he pleaded guilty to charges related to terror funding, terrorism propagation, and secessionist activities in Kashmir in 2017.
(With PTI Inputs)