Lucknow, Aug 27: A special court on Monday sentenced two men to life imprisonment and imposed a heavy fine on them in connection with the 2007 court blasts case in the Uttar Pradesh capital.
Special Judge Babita Rani had declared Tariq Kajmi and Mohd Akhtar guilty on Thursday and fixed today for awarding the quantum of punishment. She sentenced them to life imprisonment today and imposed a fine of Rs 5.10 lakh each.
The court was conducting the trial in district jail, Lucknow. Both the accused have already been in jail for 11 years. Pronouncing the verdict, the court observed the accused had not only attacked the judiciary but also conspired to wage war against the country, which were serious offences.
Joint Director of ATS Subhash Chandra Singh and senior public prosecutor Atul Kumar Ojha had demanded death penalty for the convicts, while the lawyers of the accused, Arif Ali and Furkan Khan, pleaded for leniency, saying they had been in jail for last 11 years. The third accused in the case, Khalid Mohd, had died during course of the trial and the fourth accused, Sajjadur- Rehman, was earlier given a clean chit.
[Read more: Timeline: 2007 Hyderabad twin bomb blasts case]
According to government lawyers Pravin Srivastav and MK Singh, the accused had been chargesheeted for sedition, criminal conspiracy and attempted murder which were offences under the Indian Penal Code. They had also been booked under the Explosive Substances Act and the Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act.
The court convicted the two accused for all these offences. The prosecution produced 44 witnesses in support of its case, while the defense examined its three witnesses.
A series of blasts had taken place in courts at Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi on November 23, 2007. Several people died in Varanasi and Faizabad but there was no casualty in Lucknow. For Lucknow blasts, the FIR was registered in the Wazirganj police station on same day.
During the course of the probe, on December 22, 2007, the STF arrested Tariq Kajmi of Rani ki Sarai village in Sarai Meer police station area of Azamgarh. Mohammad Akhtar of Kashmir were arrested on December 27.
The STF had then said the four were operatives of Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI). Later, the Lucknow court blast case was transferred to the anti-terror squad (ATS) which submitted the charge-sheet against the accused in April, 2008.