Delhi HC Judge Recuses from Hearing NIA’s Death Penalty Plea Against Yasin Malik

Yasin Malik

Delhi High Court judge Amit Sharma on Thursday recused himself from hearing a plea by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) seeking the death penalty for separatist leader Yasin Malik in a terror funding case. The matter was then listed before a division bench headed by Justice Prathiba M. Singh following a change in the roster of judges handling such cases.

“List before another bench, of which Justice Sharma is not a member, on August 9,” Justice Singh said.

The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief, currently serving a life term in the case, was virtually present for the court proceedings from Tihar jail. The court directed that he will also appear virtually on the next date.

Previous Hearings

On May 29, 2023, the high court issued a notice to Yasin Malik on the NIA’s plea seeking the death penalty for him in the terror funding case and sought his presence before it on the next date. Subsequently, jail authorities filed an application seeking permission for his virtual appearance on the grounds that he was a “very high-risk prisoner” and that it was imperative not to physically produce him in court to maintain public order and safety. The request was granted by the high court.

In this matter, on May 24, 2022, a trial court sentenced Malik to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of offenses under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code. Malik had pleaded guilty to the charges, including those under the UAPA, and was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Appealing against the sentence, the NIA emphasized that a terrorist cannot be sentenced to a life term solely because he pleaded guilty and chose not to go through a trial. While seeking an enhancement of the sentence to the death penalty, the NIA argued that if such dreaded terrorists are not given capital punishment due to pleading guilty, it would erode the sentencing policy, allowing terrorists to avoid capital punishment.

The NIA asserted that a life sentence is not commensurate with the crime committed by terrorists when the nation and families of soldiers have suffered loss of lives. It contended that the trial court’s conclusion that Malik’s crimes did not fall within the category of the “rarest of the rare cases” for granting the death penalty is “ex-facie legally flawed and completely unsustainable.”

The trial court, which had rejected the NIA’s plea for the death penalty, stated that the crimes committed by Malik struck at the “heart of the idea of India” and were intended to forcefully secede Jammu and Kashmir from the Union of India. However, it noted that the case was not the “rarest of rare,” warranting the death penalty.

Read More: Supreme CourtDelhi High CourtStates High CourtOther CourtsInternational

Recommended For You

About the Author: Nunnem Gangte