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Pakistani terrorist’s mercy petition rejected by President Murmu | What is Red Fort attack case?

President Droupadi Murmu rejected the mercy plea by Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Arif alias Ashfaq, who was convicted in the 2000 Red Fort attack case.

Edited By: Ashesh Mallick @asheshmallick07 New Delhi Published on: June 12, 2024 19:08 IST
President Droupadi Murmu, Mercy petition, Red Fort attack case
Image Source : PTI President Droupadi Murmu

President Droupadi Murmu rejected the mercy plea of Pakistani terrorist Mohammed Arif alias Ashfaq convicted in the nearly 24-year-old Red Fort attack case, according to officials. The Supreme Court had dismissed Arif’s review petition on November 3, 2022, and upheld the death penalty awarded to him in the case. The mercy plea from the terrorist, received on May 15, was turned down on May 27, officials said, quoting the President's secretariat order of May 29.

The attack took place on December 22, 2000, when the intruders opened fire at 7 Rajputana Rifles unit stationed within the Red Fort premises, killing three Army personnel. Arif, who is a Pakistani national belonging to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), was arrested by Delhi Police four days after the attack.

What is the Red Fort attack case?

Arif was found guilty of conspiring with other terrorists to carry out the attack, with the trial court sentencing him to death in October 2005. The Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court upheld the decision in subsequent appeals.

The trial court had said that the conspiracy to attack the Red Fort was hatched at the house of two conspirators in Srinagar, where Arif had illegally entered in 1999 along with three other LeT terrorists.

The three terrorists-- Abu Shaad, Abu Bilal and Abu Haider -- who had also entered the monument, were killed in separate encounters.

Despite multiple legal challenges, including review and curative petitions, Arif's plea for mercy was rejected, highlighting the severity of the crime and the threat it posed to national security.

Terrorist approaches Supreme Court

The Delhi High Court had confirmed the trial court's decision in September 2007. Arif then approached the Supreme Court challenging the high court's verdict. The top court had in August 2011 also sided with the order of awarding the death sentence awarded to him.

Later, his review petition came up before a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court which dismissed it in August 2012. A curative petition was also rejected in January 2014. After that, Arif filed a petition submitting that review petitions in matters arising out of the award of death sentence be heard by a bench of three judges and in open court.

What had the Supreme Court said?

A constitution bench of the Supreme Court had in its September 2014 judgement concluded that in all cases in which the death sentence was awarded by the high court, such matters be listed before a bench of three judges.Before the September 2014 verdict, the review and curative petitions of death row convicts were not heard in open courts but were decided in chamber proceedings by circulation.

In January 2016, a constitution bench had directed that Arif shall be entitled to seek re-opening of the dismissal of the review petitions for an open court hearing within one month.

The Supreme Court rejected the review petition in its verdict delivered on November 3, 2022.

(With PTI inputs)

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