Interview with an advocate on the execution
of Shaheed Maqbool Butt

(Note: Advocate Bashir Ahamed Butt from Srinagar, who had close association
with the defence counsels of Maqbool Butt, had tried to procure Maqbool Butt´s
file from the High Court and held meetings with Butt Sahib in the jail, has
made some comments in Nepal in 1990 on Butt Sahib´s execution.The audio cassette
of this commentary is with us.)

" I had the chance of examining the file of Butt Sahib in which we found a
technical snag. The file didn't contain original death certificate. An
application submitted by Maqbool Butt Sahib to the then High Court judge, Neel
Kanth Ganju, for grant of permission for another lawyer of his choice instead of
Ghulam Ahmed Advocate, was not found. Upon minute checking, we found fake
page-marking, first page-marking was removed for the fake one which clearly
shows that Butt sahibˋs application was removed from the file. We consulted
special prosecutor, Ali Mohammad Vatali who later on retired as DIG Kashmir.
When asked about the removal of the page, Vatali confirmed it. Again, we asked
him that it was an important legal point to be raised in Supreme Court. He
maintained that the original death certificate was not on the file and I'm he
was speaking the truth in order to save an innocent life. For almost six months
we didn't open the file, then advocate Pathak came to Srinagar and I !
brought him the file. I proceeded to Delhi with Pathak where I heard that
Liberation Army men had abducted Mahatre and they were demanding release of
Maqbool Butt Sahib. Unfortunately, the kidnappers didnˋt bother to enquire about
the legal aspect of execution, which shows that Maqbool Buttˋs own people
conspired against him and got him martyred".

Q. Maqbool Shaeed was arrested in 1976. Mahatre´s murder took place in 1984. Why
didn't you plead for this case?
A. Because I entered the profession in 1984. Maqbool Buttˋs brother told me that
Ghulam Nabi Hagru was pleading this case but was not getting the file. So I
promised to get it. Ghulam Nabi Butt also told me that Muzaffar Beg was also
pleading the case. I think if properly looked into and studied since 1976, the
situation would have been different.
Q. Are you sure that it was mentioned in the petition that original death
sentence certificate was missing?
A. When we appeared in the court, Mahatre had already been abducted. There
were three senior lawyers, namely Mr. Ramesh Patak, Mr. Kapil Sibal and Mr.
Muzaffar Beg who raised this point before the court that original death
certificate was missing from the file. The then Chief, Justice Mr Y.P.
Chanderachud got annoyed and said," I will never believe the the government
tells lies and they fabricated the document. I will never.......... and he threw
away the file."
Q. Do you believe that had not Mahatre been kidnmapped and killed, the Chief
Justice would have heard the petition in a sober mind and in conformity with the
law of the land.
A. The news appeared in papers about the cabinet decision that India will never
bow before the pressure of kidnappers. It makes one believe that the Chief
Justice was under political pressure to grant death sentence. That is why
without studying the file, he gave verdict in one minute, which is an abnormal
practice in a Supreme Court. Normally, such cases are intensively debated for
days together before the verdict is given and the precedent is on record in
Indra Gandhi murder case.
Q. What do you think could be the reason for disposing off the case in just a
A. The main reason was the kidnapping of Mahatre. Otherwise the Chief Justice
would have been free of political pressure. Most probably death penalty against
Maqbool Butt would have been condoned.
Q. Are you sure of it in terms of legal strength of the case or that you are
just moved by your emotions?
A. This I say as a lawyer. Death penalty can't be carried out when there is no
original death sentence certificate. Supreme Court had sent the case back to the
High Court on this ground and we were sure that Butt Sahib would be saved from
capital punishment.
Q. Once more I ask you whether, as a lawyer, you believe that the death sentence
was upheld because of Mahatre kidnapping?
A. As a lawyer I assert that the point we had raised in the petition was quite
valid and legal and it was impossible to carry out the execution but for
Mahatreˋs kidnapping combined with political pressure made the Chief Justice
uphold the sentence. Every Kashmiri child knows that if kidnapping had not
taken place then execution could have been avoided. From 1976 till 1984, a
period of eight years, the death sentence had not been implemented.
Q. What do you expllain the political pressure?
A. It seems to me that India decided to put an end to the game of blackmailing
at first stage.
Q. Does it mean that whoever, whether Hashim Qureshi or Amanullah, killed
Mahatre after kidnapping, is the murderer of Maqbool Butt?
A. Yes, it is my conviction that whoever got Mahatre killed is the real
murderer of Butt. I had met Shaheed Butt. He had showed his willingness to file
this writ petition and he was suspicious about his people that they might hatch
a conspiracy against him. He had said that he was being tried in another case,
and until decision come in that, they could not hang him..
Q. Is it in Indian constitution that the death sentence cannot be carried out
until decision in second murder case against the same accused is delivered?
A. Legally, yes. The first decision cannnot be implemented till the decision in
second case is given. It is out of my understanding that how Indian Supreme
Court did it. Surely they did it because of Mahatre issue.

Note: In the light of what is stated above, I consider the entire case of
execution of Maqbool Butt a dark spot on the name of Indian juiciary. One can
say that the Government of India at that time took revenge of Mahatre´s murder
on innocent Maqbool Butt. The contriving of the murder of innocent Mahatre
resounds in the revengeful execution of Maqbool Butt. It needs to be understood
that the murderers of Maqbool Butt were not only the Indian judiciary and the
Indian Government, but actually those who provided them the pretext to hang
Maqsbool Butt.)