Delhi HC dismisses convict's plea against sentencing in case under anti-terror law

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New Delhi, Jun 8 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has dismissed a petition by a convict seeking a direction to run his seven-year sentence in a UAPA case for conspiring to establish an ISIS base in India "concurrently" with the sentence imposed upon him in another case.

The petitioner said he was a young, poor and illiterate man who had voluntarily pleaded guilty before both the trial courts out of a genuine desire to reform himself, attain education and become a productive member of society.

Dismissing the petition, Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said there was no reason for exercise of the discretion to direct concurrent running of the two sentences. The judge emphasised that the offence committed by petitioner Mohsin Ibrahim Sayyed was grave and had an impact on national security and communal harmony.

"Terrorism not only threatens the national security of the country but also the very fabric of society by targeting innocent civilians and institutions indiscriminately, with an aim to instil fear among the common and innocent citizens of a country," the court said in a judgment on June 7.

"They also result in loss of innocent lives, destruction of property and destabilisation of regions. These impacts are often long-lasting. Thus, the gravity of such crimes lies in their potential to cause widespread harm, both physically and psychologically, and their challenge to fundamental values of peace, tolerance and coexistence in a nation," it stated.

Justice Sharma said the petitioner has been convicted upon the conclusion of trials in two different cases which are not part of the "same transaction" and consecutive running of sentences of eight years in the other case and seven years in the instant case -- both not being the maximum punishment that could have been awarded -- would not cause any prejudice.

"In one case, the petitioner has been convicted for conspiring to carry out an attack in the city of Haridwar during the Ardh Kumbh Mela and raising funds for the same. Whereas in the other case, the petitioner has been convicted for promoting the activities of ISIS, including recruitment of youths for the purpose of enticing them to become 'fidayeen', as well as for planning the assassination of a leader of Hindu Mahasabha," he added.

"Since lenient view has already been taken by the trial courts at the stage of sentencing, no further leniency can be granted to the petitioner by allowing the concurrent running of sentences awarded to him by the trial courts in Greater Bombay and in Delhi," the court concluded.

On June 2, 2022, the trial court here sentenced the petitioner to seven years in prison for offences under the Indian Penal Code and the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

The National Investigation Agency alleged that the petitioner had allegiance to the ISIS. He was motivating Muslim youngsters and training them to carry out terror activities in India and planning to shift them to countries such as Syria and Iraq, the agency said then.

It was also claimed that one of the suspects in the case was in contact with a foreign-based handler of ISIS and was conspiring to carry out terrorist acts by planting IEDs during the Ardh Kumbh Mela in Haridwar. PTI ADS IJT

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