New Delhi, May 29 (IANS): The Delhi High Court on Monday issued a notice to Yasin Malik, chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) over the NIA's plea seeking his death penalty in a terror funding case, which also compared him with slain Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
A division bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh also issued production warrants for Malik and listed the case for hearing next on August 9.
During the hearing, Solicitor General of India (SG) Tushar Mehta said that Malik avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty "very tactfully".
"Wider issue troubling us that any terrorist may come, commit terror activities and the court may say because he has pleaded guilty, we are giving life sentence. Everyone would come here and avoid trial by pleading guilty because they would know if they enter trial, hanging is the only result," the SG argued.
To which, Justice Mridul orally said: "That may be his constitutional right. Ingenuity is not a constitutional right of just lawyers, it is the constitutional right of the litigants also."
Mehta then went on to compare Malik with terrorist Osama Bin Laden and said: "By this standard, if Osama Bin Laden would have been tried here, he would have been permitted to plead guilty and then I'd be arguing the question of limitation."
Justice Mridul said that they (the court) cannot compare Malik with Bin Laden as the latter never stood trial anywhere and refused to comment on the same.
The SGI also argued that Malik indulged in terrorist and secessionist activities and should be handed the death penalty by treating the matter as a "rarest of rare" case.
"In view of the ground that Yasin Malik, sole respondent in this appeal, has inter alia pleaded guilty to a charge under section 121 IPC which provides for an alternate death sentence, we issue notice to him... to be served through the jail superintendent," the court ordered.
The high court has also sought recommendations of the Law Commission on Yasin's death penalty.
In May 2022, Malik, who has been convicted in connection with a 2017 terror funding case, was sentenced to life by a special NIA court here.
Special Judge Praveen Singh had pronounced the verdict under relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act which will be concurrent and will run till life.
The quantum of punishment for the offences in the terror funding case, was pronounced last year amid tight security at the Patiala House Courts.
During the course of the hearing in the trial court last year, Malik had said: "I will not beg for anything. The case is before this court and I leave it to the court to decide it."
"If I have been involved in any terrorist activity or violence in 28 years, if Indian Intelligence proves this, then I will also retire from politics. I will accept the hanging... with seven Prime Ministers, I have worked," he had told the court.
The NIA told the court during the hearing that the accused is responsible for the Kashmiri Pandits' exodus from the Valley. The probe agency had also argued for the death sentence for Malik.
On the other hand, the amicus curiae had sought life imprisonment as a minimum punishment in the case.
Malik had pleaded guilty in the matter earlier. In the previous hearing, he told the court that he was not contesting the charges levelled against him, including section 16 (terrorist cct), 17 (raising funds for the terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy to commit terrorist act), and 20 (being member of a terrorist gang or organisation) of the UAPA and sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 124-A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code.