The Supreme Court on Thursday sentenced four convicts in the 1996 Lajpat Nagar blasts case to life imprisonment for the remainder of their lives without remission.

The blasts which occurred at Delhi's Lajpat Nagar Central Market in the evening of May 21, 1996 had resulted in the death of 13 persons and left 38 injured.

"In view of the severity of the offence resulting in deaths of innocent persons and the role played by each accused person, all these accused persons are sentenced to imprisonment for life, without remission, extending to natural life," said a bench of Justices B.R. Gavai, Vikram Nath and Sanjay Karol, in its detailed judgement.

Supreme Court of India

The convicts were identified as Mohd Naushad, Mirza Nissar Hussain alias Naza, Mohd Ali Bhatt alias Killey, and Javed Ahmed.

The top court said that the case falls within the category of rarest of rare cases, but did not award death penalty to convicts in view of the delay of 27 years in all and 14 years in the trial court. It expressed its concern for the slow paced trial completed after more than a decade.

"The delay, be it for whatever reason, attributable to the judge incharge or the prosecution, has certainly compromised national interest," it said.

supreme court

The court also highlighted the importance of expeditious trial of such cases, especially when it concerns national security and the common man.

"A prominent market in the heart of the capital city is attacked .... To our great dismay, we are forced to observe that this may be due to the involvement of influential persons which is evident from the fact that out of several accused persons, only few have been put to trial," it observed.

(With inputs from IANS)