Tahilyani's first death penalty and Nikam's 32nd

Tahilyani's first death penalty and Nikam's 32nd

Judgment matters

In contrast, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam has set a record, by securing death penalty for the 32nd convict he has prosecuted. Of them, a dozen were just from one single case, that of the 1993 Mumbai serial bombings, which had resulted in 20 lifers as well.

Tahilyani was relieved that the trial had come to an end.

Well versed in both criminal and civil laws, Tahilyani’s judicial career spans 23 years. As the judge in the 26/11 trial, he kept a close watch on Ajmal Kasab, who is known to have had mood swings ever since the trial began in mid-April last year.

The judge used a combination of tact and wit to ensure that the decorum of the court was always maintained, even during tense moments like when Kasab got up to admit his guilt. His experience came in handy during tricky moments in the trial like when a lawyer had to be appointed for Kasab or when the gunman pleaded that he was a minor or when he pleaded guilty in court.

Tahilyani has presided over other high profile cases, like the murder case of music baron Gulshan Kumar but shot into limelight since he presided over the Mumbai attack trial.
For Nikam, the death penalty was a victory, a complete acceptance of his submissions by the court. The man himself has mastered the art of courtroom exits. Emerging from the court at Arthur Road jail, where, for 11 months he argued India’s biggest terror case, Nikam gave the waiting cameras the thumbs up.

Then, with a flourish, he took off his dark glasses. “The media cannot see my eyes,” he said, every bit the star of the show. Nikam has a flair for the dramatic. While asking for the death sentence for Kasab, he said, “This is an animal, a killing machine.” He may seem comfortable with all the attention but the 57-year-old has spent most of his life in far quieter conditions. The son of a lawyer, he belongs to Jalgaon. He still lives there with his family, choosing to commute to Mumbai. Nikam has so far secured 600 life sentences and 32 capital punishments.

Sometimes accused of playing to the gallery, Nikam, for now though, is a hero of sorts to many families who believe he has worked to heal their wounds.