Srinagar: The Supreme Court of India on Tuesday dismissed a plea by Ashiq Hussain Faktoo, Kashmir’s longest serving detainee, to review the life imprisonment ordered for him.
Faktoo, who completed a doctorate on the ‘Status of Sunnah in Islamic Thought and Shariah’ in jail, is the husband of Asiya Andrabi who heads Dukhtaran-e-Millat.
He has been serving life sentence following his arrest in February 1993. He was sentenced for his alleged involvement in the murder of human rights activist HN Wanchoo, and was briefly freed in 2002.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which treated the writ petition of Faktoo as a review plea, said the “comprehension” of the accused that the earlier judgement was “erroneous” would not enable the court to “reopen” the entire case.
The bench, also comprising Justices PC Pant and AM Khanwilkar, said the open court hearing of the review petitions is available as a matter of right “only in death sentence cases”.
“The present writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India by no stretch of reasoning would fit into any of the permissible categories of post conviction exercises permissible in law as laid down by this court,” the bench ruled.
“The doctrine of ex debito justitiae (as of right) being circumscribed by the judgment of this court in Rupa Ashok Hurra… it is for the petitioner to exhaust the said remedy, if he is so inclined and so advised. Merely because in the comprehension of the writ petitioner the judgment of this court is erroneous would not enable the court to reopen the issue in departure to the established and settled norms and parameters of the extent of permissible exercise of jurisdiction as well as the procedural law governing such exercise. We, therefore, hold that the present writ petition is not maintainable and is accordingly dismissed subject to the observations as above,” the bench said.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Faktoo, had questioned the 2003 conviction of the apex court, on the grounds that his confession recorded under TADA was not admissible as evidence and had not been corroborated.
A Jammu court had acquitted Faktoo in 2001, but the apex court overturned the verdict.
(with PTI inputs)