English: The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, India.

Image via Wikipedia

The Supreme Court Tuesday adjourned Ajmal Kasab’s appeal hearing against a death sentence for his part in the 2008 Mumbai killings.

Mr. Kasab, a Pakistani militant, was caught on closed-circuit video opening fire and throwing grenades inside Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji railway station, part of a three-day killing spree in India’s financial capital that led to the deaths of more than 160 people.

He was later apprehended near Chowpatty Beach, the sole member of the 10 Pakistani attackers not to die in a shootout with security forces. After initially pleading not guilty, Mr. Kasab later changed his plea to guilty, and a Mumbai court in 2010 sentenced him to death by hanging.

Court cases involving capital punishment in India can roll on for a long time through the appeals process.

Take the case of three men sentenced to death for their part in the 1991 murder of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. A court sentenced them to death in 1998, the Supreme Court turned down their appeal in 2000, and last year Indian President Pratibha Patil also refused to overturn the verdict.

But that wasn’t the end of it, although the men appeared to have exhausted all legal avenues. The three men filed a petition to the Madras High Court, which ruled in August to stay the executions, citing procedural delays.

The Supreme Court did not say when it would again take up Mr. Kasab’s appeal, which could take months, or even years, to complete. Mumbai’s High Court threw out his appeal last year, pushing the case up to the Supreme Court. If he loses this stage, he can petition the Supreme Court to review its decision. After that, he can appeal to the president for clemency.

Given the evidence against him from the station’s video footage, and the outrage caused by the attack, it’s unlikely Mr. Kasab’s appeal will succeed, said Amita Singh, professor at the Center for the Study of Law and Governance at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

“Kasab committed a serious crime and there is no doubt he will be hanged. There is clear and direct evidence of his involvement. But how soon this will happen still remains unclear,” Ms. Singh said.

Mr. Kasab is in solitary confinement at Arthur Road jail in Mumbai. According to this report by Firstpost, an Indian news service, he’s showing signs of mental disturbance. One recent visitor to the prison, Firstpost reported, saw Mr. Kasab on closed-circuit TV “swinging his head around, like a headbanger in a rock concert.”

Pakistan has acknowledged the gunmen came from Pakistan, where they planned the attacks. But the country has failed to convict the seven militants it has charged in connection with the attack. They include Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a senior commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militant group blamed by India for the attack.

Pakistani prosecutors argue they need access to Mr. Kasab to complete their cases. Indian officials say they have provided ample evidence to Pakistan to proceed with the cases and have shown public anger over the delays.

A Pakistan judicial commission is expected to travel to Mumbai next month to take depositions from Indian judicial officials that interrogated Mr. Kasab. But India, which believes Pakistan’s state was involved in some way in the attacks, won’t allow them to see Mr. Kasab.

“The Pakistan government has already settled to the Indian position since they are coming despite the Indian government’s denial to allow them access to Kasab,” Ms. Singh said.