STATE (NCT OF DELHI) VS NAVJOT SANDHU [2005 11 SCC 600]
This Case is commonly known as the Parliament Attack Case. This remarkable case was tried speedily in the Special Court by Shri. S.N. Dhingra. The 4 main accused of this case were, Mohammad Afzal Guru, Shaukat Hussain Guru, S.A.R. Gilani and Afsan Guru (Navjot Sandhu) wife of Shaukat Guru. Appeals were made before High Court and later in Supreme Court where a division bench of Justice P. Venkatarama Reddi and Justice P.P. Naolekar delivered the Judgement.
FACTS OF THE CASE-
- 13th December, 2001; was adjudged as a very dreadful day in history of India, on that particular day the Parliament House of India was attacked by 5 heavily armed gunmen whose motive was to raid the Parliament House and hold hostage all the VIPs present.
- The attackers entered the parliament premises in a white ambassador which had a fake sticker on it and started firing the Security Guards, the firing continued for approximately 30 – 45 mins. All 5 attackers were shot dead by the armed forces and security personnel resulting in many casualties.
- Later the investigating team found out that some of them were a part of “Jaish-E-Mohammed” a banned terrorist organisation and the 4 main accusedMohammad Afzal Guru, Shaukat Hussain Guru, S.A.R. Gilani and Afsan Guru (Navjot Sandhu) were found to be affiliated by this organisation.
- Later case was filed in the Special Court where charges were framed against the accused under sections 121,121-A, 122 read with 302,307 and 120-B of Indian Penal Code (IPC), sub sections (2), (3) & (5) and section 4B of Prevention of Terrorism Act and Section 3 &4 of Explosive Substance Act.
- The trial in the Special Court lasted for 6 months and as many as 80 witnesses were questioned by prosecutor and 10 witnesses on behalf of accused. And all the accused were convicted guilty of abovementioned charges but Accused Afsan Guru alias Navjot Sandhu was acquitted from all the charges expect Section 123 of IPC wherein she had to undergo Rigorous Imprisonment for 5 Years with fine.
Various issues were raised during the hearing of the case the case had taken a very controversial turn as death sentence was awarded to Afzal Guru. Following are some of the issues which were broadly mentioned before the Bench:
- Law Relating to Confessions- The Court in Ahmed vs State of Rajasthan has laid down certain rules relating to the use of confessions made by a co-accused, the court states that while a co-accused makes a confession it has to be confirmed. Also while using such confessions the court has to take proper care as it can be used against the maker as well as the co-accused. If the facts of the case are such which court thinks that certain confessions do not require confirmation then it can form basis of conviction but in this very case the confession so made does not became the basis of conviction without confirmation.
- Nature of Confessions- The court also mentions the rule relating the nature of confessions made by the accused. It is stated that the confession made by the accused should be voluntary and not under coercion, also the court states that the confession made before the police personnel does not amount to final confession. Also the reliability of the confession so made must be taken into consideration by the court as it is the duty of the court to ensure that the confession made is free from threat, coercion or any kind of duress.
- Admissibility of Electronic Record- In this very case the major issue raised was regarding the admissibility of electronic records. It was a big question before the court was whether the electronic records; specifically call records in this case were permitted or not. The authenticity of call records was a dilemma in this case. The defence counsel in this case questioned the credibility of the call records as the records lacked the submission of certificate which is required under Section 65B (4) of the Indian Evidence Act.
When the case was filed in the Special Court, all the 4 accused were held guilty and were convicted with the charges mentioned above except accused no. 4- Afsan Guru Alias Navjot Sandhu who was convicted under section 123 of IPC for concealing the truth and facts about the war waged against the government of India; and was awarded with a Rigorous Imprisonment for a term of 5 Years with fine. Later this order was challenged and all the accused along with the state had filed appeals before the High Court wherein the appeals of state were considered and Mohammad Afzal Guru and Shaukat Hussain Guru were awarded with death sentence and appeals of accused S.A.R. Gilani and Afsan Guru Alias Navjot Sandhu were allowed and they were acquitted from their charges.
The High Court in Navjot Sandhu’s case, states that there was no material evidence against her which would prove her guilty under the charges of section 123 of IPC, as also the admissibility of electronic records which were of telephonic conversation between Afsan Guru and Shaukat Guru were not accepted by the court so there was no proof against Navjot Sandhu. She was not aware of the activities of Shaukat and Afzal so there was no point of concealment on her part. And observing all these points the court Acquitted Navjot Sandhu Alias Afsan Guru from all the charges imposed upon her.
The order of High Court again gave rise to filing of appeals before the Supreme Court; wherein Afzal Gurus’s plea was rejected and his death sentence was upheld, Shaukat Guru’s plea was partly accepted where he was awarded with imprisonment for a period of 10 years instead of death sentence and a fine of Rs. 25,000 default in which would result in additional sentence for 1 year. State’s plea to dismiss the acquittal of S.A.R.Gilani and Afsan Guru was rejected. Afzal Guru’s Mercy petition was also rejected and his capital punishment was termed as “Operation Three Star”.