The legal journey of Afzal Guru


The very idea of attacking and overpowering a sovereign democratic institution... is a terrorist act of gravest severity... It is a classic example of rarest of rare cases Supreme Court

On December 13, 2001, around 11.40 am, five men in a white Ambassador, fitted with a red light and Home Ministry sticker, drove into Parliament complex. When challenged by security, they opened fire, killing nine persons — eight security personnel and one gardener. In the shootout, all five attackers were killed.

Within days, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, with the help of leads relating to the car used and cellphone records, arrested four persons — Mohammad Afzal Guru, a former JKLF militant who had surrendered in 1994, his cousin Shaukat Husain Guru, Shaukat's wife Afsan Guru (Navjot Sandhu before marriage) and S A R Gilani, a lecturer of Arabic at Delhi University.

After years of judicial and administrative process, Afzal was hanged to death Saturday morning in Delhi's Tihar jail. The Sunday Express recaps the legal journey he traversed since arrest.


The FIR was lodged by the police on December 13, and recorded as an armed attack by terrorists. After subsequent arrests, all the accused were tried under charges of waging war, conspiracy, murder, attempt to murder etc. Six days later, the provisions of POTA were added to the original charges.

On December 22, 2001, the case was brought before a Special POTA Court under Justice (retd) S N Dhingra, who was then a sessions judge. The trial started on July 8, 2001, and was conducted on a day-to-day basis. It was concluded in the next four months. Relying on clinching circumstantial evidence, the Special Court on December 18, 2001, awarded capital punishment to Afzal, Shaukat and Geelani. Shaukat's wife Afsan was found guilty of concealing the plot and sentenced to five years in jail.

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