A division bench of Karnataka High Court headed by Justice N Kumar commuted the death penalty awarded by a special court in 2008 to 7 of the convicts to life sentence in the Church blast case. High Court of Karnataka commuted the death penalty imposed on seven convicts in the 2000 serial church blast cases to life imprisonment and upheld conviction of all the 22 people belonging to the banned Deendar Anjuman Organisation, who were convicted by a Special Court in 2008. Further, the life sentence imposed on 15 other members of the sect has been upheld.
The blasts had occurred in June-July 2000 in Bengaluru, Hubballi and Wadi in Kalaburagi district. Court said that, the acts of the seven convicts does not fall under the category of “rarest of rare cases” to warrant death penalty. There was no loss of public life in the blasts and their intention was not to kill people,
It was observed by the court that, each of the accused is party to the conspiracy, and the evidence on record clearly establishes the same. Court further observed that, “They wanted to see how Hindus and Christians fight among themselves, so that peace in the society is destroyed. They printed pamphlets and circulated them, with the hope that Christians and Hindus would lock horns. In a country which believes in peaceful co-existence of all religions, the action of these is unpardonable.”
While commuting the death penalty, the bench said no loss of life was reported in the blasts and the only intent was to bring disharmony. Court further said that, “it is of utmost importance that a strong message is sent to all these misguided, evil-minded elements in society and in particular, the youth of the Muslim community to desist from indulging in any such anti-national activities lest the entire community gets a bad name. This is a country and state, which belongs to all religious denominations.”
Court even referred to Karnataka’s anthem penned by Rashtrakavi Kuvempu to describe the state as a garden of religions.