The Delhi High Court on Thursday (12 October) modified the death penalty issued by a trial court to Ariz Khan, the convict in the 2008 Batla House encounter case, where Delhi Police Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma was killed.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Siddharth Mridul and Amit Sharma upheld Khan's conviction but partially allowed his appeal by reducing the sentence to life imprisonment.
The High Court, after hearing arguments from Khan's counsel and Delhi Police in August, reserved its judgment, Bar and Bench reported.
The trial court's March 2021 verdict had categorised his case as the rarest of rare, justifying the maximum penalty of the death sentence.
In the Batla House encounter on 19 September 2008, Delhi Police conducted a raid to apprehend terrorists linked to the Indian Mujahideen. The terrorists were suspected of carrying out serial blasts in Delhi a week earlier, resulting in at least 30 deaths.
According to the prosecution, a gunfight erupted when the police reached Batla House. The police team, cornered in the drawing-room, had to open fire in self-defense.
Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma and other officers were injured. While one terrorist in the room was also shot, Ariz Khan and another managed to escape. Declared a proclaimed offender in 2009, Khan was eventually arrested in 2018.
The trial court's judgment deemed Khan's actions as a heinous and brutal attack on the police without provocation, classifying it as a rarest of the rare cases deserving the death penalty.
The court also imposed an Rs 11 lakh fine on Khan, with Rs 10 lakh allocated as compensation for the deceased police officer's wife. The case was forwarded to the Delhi High Court for confirmation of the death penalty.
Khan appealed against the judgment, and his legal representation included advocates MS Khan, Prashant Prakash, Qausar Khan, and Rahul Sahan.
Delhi Police was represented by Special Counsel Rajesh Mahajan, along with advocates Asha Tiwari, Jyoti Babbar, Ranjeeb Kamal Bora, and Kuldeep Chauhan.
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