The prosecution in the builder Pradeep Jain murder case on Friday changed its stand and demanded life imprisonment for the gangster Abu Salem instead of the death sentence. “In view of the provision of the Extradition Act, the accused (Salem) may be sent to imprisonment for life,” special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said in the special TADA court.
On Monday, Salem, his driver Mehendi Hassan and builder Virendra Jhamb were convicted for Jain’s murder in 1995. The court is now hearing arguments on sentence. Earlier, Nikam had sought death sentence for Salem.
Seeking life sentence, on Friday he also argued that the executive assurance (at the time of extradition) does not bind the judicial pronouncement. (The government of India had given an undertaking to Portugal that Salem will neither be given the capital punishment nor a sentence exceeding 25 years). “The government will discharge its executive assurance at the appropriate time. Government has right to waive sentence after the judicial pronouncement,” he said.
Nikam also argued that the government had not given the undertaking to Portugal government on behalf of the judiciary. “To consider it a perpetual undertaking is wrong,” he said.
While seeking the capital punishment for Hassan, Nikam argued that he was a close confidant of Salem. Refuting the argument by Hassan’s lawyer that the Supreme Court, while earlier convicting the hired shooters who killed Jain, had said that the case did not fall in rarest of the rare category, Nikam said Salem had not been tried then and the extent of conspiracy was still to come to light.
“If Salem was the leader of the gang outside India, Hassan was its leader in India and he is equally responsible,” Nikam said.
The prosecution argued that Hassan not only arranged the shooters but communicated with Salem all the time. “The hidden objective of Salem’s gang was to strike terror in the minds of builder community,” Nikam said, adding that Salem wanted to create his own “kingdom” in India.
Hassan’s role was no lesser as he was handling Salem’s business in India, he said. Special TADA judge GA Sanap will continue hearing the arguments on Monday.