Separatist leader Yasin Malik pleaded guilty in a terror funding case only to escape death penalty, the National Investigation Agency told the Delhi High Court on Monday, reported Bar and Bench.

The central agency made the remarks at the hearing of its plea seeking the death penalty for Malik. The separatist leader had been sentenced to life imprisonment by a National Investigation Agency court in May last year in a case filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Malik had pleaded guilty to all charges before the court.

The National Investigation Agency had at the time asked the court to sentence Malik to death. However, the court had held that the case did not fall in the “rarest of rare” category to warrant a death penalty.

On Monday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the National Investigation Agency, drew a parallel between Malik’s case and that of Osama bin Laden, saying that the terrorist would have also been allowed to plead guilty had he been tried in India.

“Wider issue troubling us [is] that any terrorist may come, commit terror activities and the court may say because he has pleaded guilty, we are giving life sentence,” Mehta argued. “Everyone would come here and avoid trial by pleading guilty because they would know if they enter trial, hanging is the only result.”

To this, the judges said that the cases of Malik and bin Laden were different. “We can’t compare this gentleman with bin laden because he never stood trial anywhere,” the bench said.

Continuing his arguments, Mehta said that propagating a region to be separated from the country makes the case “rarest of rare”, deserving death sentence, reported Live Law.

Mehta also told the court that Malik is responsible for killing four Indian Air Force personnel in Srinagar and kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed, the daughter of former Union Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed.

“Your lordships may recall, because of this kidnapping, four dreaded terrorists were required to be released and they masterminded the 26/11 Bombay attacks,” he added.

The court then issued notice to Malik and has posted the case for hearing in August.