Delhi PUCL:HC upholds acquittal of three ‘terrorists’
Says prosecution’s plea ‘suffers from gaps, lacunae which remain unexplained and cause doubt about recoveries’
The Delhi High Court on Thursday upheld a trial court verdict acquitting two Kashmiri men and a Pakistan national accused of being “terrorists”. It also pointed out serious lacunae in the prosecution story. Three years ago, the trial court while acquitting these men had pulled up the Special Cell of the Delhi Police for the probe into the case.
The Special Cell had arrested the three from Dilli Haat in April 2007 claiming that it had received secret information that arms and explosives were to be delivered by the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba to a Pakistani fidayeen in Delhi in order to carry out an attack to disrupt the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the 1857 Revolt.
The prosecution had charged them with waging war against India, being part of a terror organisation and various other offences under the IPC, Arms Act, and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The trial court acquitted the three of all these charges, but convicted the Pakistan national Mohd Hassan of violating provisions of the Passports Act.
Police had then filed an appeal before the High Court, which was dismissed on Wednesday.
The court of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Ashutosh Kumar in its 29-page judgment set aside the objections raised by police in their appeal and noted that the prosecution “suffers from various gaps and lacunae which remain unexplained and consequently cause doubt and debate about recoveries made and to what extent the respondent (No.1 and 2) were actually involved”.
Jammu residents Shafaqat Iqbal and Shabbir Ahmed and Pakistan citizen Hassan had claimed that they had been “illegally picked up” from Jammu by police and brought to Delhi, where they were arrested after having been detained illegally for several days.
The Delhi High Court in its order did not make any comment on the allegations raised by the accused men but took note of the various lapses on the part of police and the prosecution.
The court noted that the arms, ammunition, RDX and money —, which police had claimed had been brought to Delhi by Shafqat and handed over to Hassan —- was not recovered from the accused in front of public witnesses.
“This finding is also relevant as we have held that incriminating material had been recovered/found, before Mani Ram (PW3) and Hari Singh (PW7) had the occasion to join investigation. They had not seen what had actually happened/transpired, before the three persons were apprehended,” the court said.
Further, the court held that the hand grenades that were allegedly recovered from the accused had never been produced before the court as evidence and no explanation had been given to explain their absence.
“It was the responsibility of the prosecution, even if there was destruction or diffusion of the hand grenades, to produce necessary evidence. There is complete failure of the prosecution to lead evidence on the said aspect,” the court said.
Shafqat and Shabbir were released from jail after the trial court acquittal in 2012.
Hassan has remained in detention at the Foreigners Detention Centre, Lampur, for the past three years.
According to advocate N D Pancholi, who represented the two Kashmiri men, their families had been “afraid” that they would be sent back to jail — the two had already spent over five years in jail during the trial court hearing.
(Accused were represented by me alongwith Mr. M.S. Khan, advocate)
Published in The Indian Express, dated15th May 2015 (Delhi city) Link below: