All the 12 convicts in the 2006 Mumbai train bombings case on Monday leaded before the trial court not to award them death sentence on humanitarian grounds, as arguments started on the quantum of punishment for one of the most murderous terror attacks in India.
As many as 188 people were killed and many others injured when a series of powerful bombs went off in suburban trains in Mumbai on 11 July 11 2006. Twelve of the 13 arrested accused were pronounced guilty by a Special Court last week.
Judge Yatin D Shinde called each convict before him and recorded their oral statements on the quantum of sentence to be given to them.
"There were mitigating circumstances to suggest they were reformed and hence leniency should be showed to them," said a written statement by all the 12 convicts found guilty of the crime on 11 September by a designated court under stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime (MCOCA).
The defence and prosecution lawyers would today submit arguments on the quantum of sentence citing High Court and Supreme Court judgements.
"I have small kids to look after," said Kamal Ansari, the first convict to appear before the Judge for recording his statement on quantum of punishment. He pleaded for a minimum sentence.
Another convict, Tanvir Ahmed, a doctor, said he had chosen the profession to help the poor and he wished to serve the needy. He said he had worked in a charitable hospital.
"I have no past criminal record and I have behaved well in the jail (as an undertrial). I did a post-graduation in disaster management and have improved my academic records," Tanvir told the court.
Another convict, Mohammed Faisal Shaikh, also prayed for a lesser sentence saying he was suffering from brain tumour for the past three years. "I also have spine-related ailments." He said he was not convicted by any court earlier and does not have any intention to commit any crime in future.
Shaikh said his parents were old and there was nobody to take care of them. "My brother has also been convicted in the same case," he said seeking minimum punishment.
Yet another convict, Ehtesham Siddiqui, told the court that he hails from a poor family and was operating a small business (before arrest). "I could not get education as we were poor and with great difficulty I was able to learn. My brother runs the family and he is not financially sound."
He said after going to jail he was able to get an education and currently he is doing graduation in law. He also pleaded for minimum punishment saying that there is nobody to take care of his family after he goes to jail.