NIA seeks death penalty for Yasin Malik, Draws controversy with comparison to Osama Bin Laden

The Delhi high court on Monday sought a response from separatist leader and chief of Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Yasin Malik, who was awarded a life term by a trial court, on a plea by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) seeking the death penalty against him in a terror funding case.

A bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh also issued the production warrant for Malik to appear before the court on the next date of hearing on August 9.

During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the NIA, went on to compare Malik with slain al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. “If Osama Bin Laden was before this court, he would also get the same treatment,” Mehta said. To this, Justice Mridul said there can be no comparison between the two because Osama did not face any trial in any court of law across the globe. Mehta then said, “I think the US was correct.” Justice Mridul refused to comment on that.

On May 24, 2022, a trial court awarded life imprisonment to Malik after holding him guilty of various offences under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code.

Earlier in the day, the judge also sought to know from the solicitor general to show where it was mentioned in the order of charge that Malik had caused the death of public functionaries and abducted the individual to force the government to do something.

When the counsel could not locate it for some time, the court asked Mehta to take a pass over and show the specific averments in the order of charge, as framed by the trial court. The matter was passed over till 12.15 pm, when the NIA was supposed to show the specific averment on the deaths and loss of lives in the order on charge.

The SG, on a specific query, told the court that Malik had killed four Indian Air Force (IAF) officers and also abducted the daughter of the then home minister, in return for the release of the terrorists, who later went on to plan the 26/11 terror attacks.

Malik was convicted after pleading guilty to charges related to terror funding, spreading terrorism and secessionist activities in Kashmir in 2017.

Even though Malik was convicted of waging war against the State, the court at the time of his conviction noted that this case does not fall under the category of “rarest of rare crime”, warranting the death penalty.

The court had also said that the issue of genocide of the Kashmiri Pandits and their exodus is not before this court and hence the court cannot be swayed into that argument.

The life term was awarded for two offences – section 121 (waging war against government of India) of IPC and section 17 (raising funds for terrorist act) of the UAPA.

Under section 121 (waging war against the State) of the IPC, the minimum punishment is life imprisonment while the maximum is death.

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