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Batla House encounter: Delhi High Court commutes Ariz Khan’s death penalty to life in jail

The Delhi High Court on Thursday commuted the death penalty awarded to a convict, Ariz Khan, by a trial court in the 2008 Batla House encounter case. The court reduced his sentence to life imprisonment.

The High Court upheld the trial court’s order, which convicted Ariz Khan under the Arms Act and for the killing of Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma during the Batla House encounter in New Delhi’s Jamia Nagar.

The High Court bench had reserved its order on the issue in August after the lawyers for the convict and the State concluded their submissions.

Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma of the Delhi Police’s Special Cell was killed in the encounter between police and terrorists in south Delhi’s Jamia Nagar on September 19, 2008.

Two terrorists were also killed in the encounter that took place days after five synchronised bomb explosions rocked the national capital, killing 39 people and wounding 159.

Sharma had raided the place while looking for the terrorists responsible for the blasts.

The trial court convicted Ariz Khan on March 8, 2021, saying it was duly proved that he and his associates killed the police official and fired gunshots at him.

On March 15, 2021, it sentenced Khan to capital punishment and also imposed a fine of Rs 11 lakh on him, making it clear that Rs 10 lakh should immediately be released to the family members of Sharma.

Subsequently, the High Court received a reference for confirmation of Khan’s death sentence.

When a trial court sentences any person to death, its judgement is examined by the high court through hearing arguments for a confirmation of the sentence.

In its judgment, the trial court had described Khan’s act of firing on a police party without any provocation as “abhorrent and brutal”, and said this itself showed that he was not only a threat to the society, but also an enemy of the State.

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