New Delhi: The Jaipur bench of the Rajasthan high court on Wednesday, March 29, set aside the conviction and death sentences imposed on four men and upheld the acquittal of a fifth recorded by the trial court in the case of serial blasts that took place in Jaipur on May 13, 2008. In the course of pronouncing their concurring opinions, the court reiterated fundamental principles of criminal law, and held statements to police officers inadmissible as evidence, and also not any basis for establishing conspiracy.
The division bench of Justices Pankaj Bhandari and Sameer Jain set aside the conviction of Sarvar Azami, Mohammad Saif, Saifurehman, and Salman. They were sentenced to death on December 20, 2019 by a special court.
According to the police, 11 members of the Indian Mujahideen were believed to be involved in the terror act. The Rajasthan Anti-Terrorism Squad and the state Special Operation Group investigated the case and submitted the chargesheet against the five accused: Shahbaz Hussain, Mohammed Saif, Sarvar Azami, Saif-ur-Rahman and Salman.
Jaipur was rocked by nine blasts on May 13, 2008 that exploded at popular tourist locations like Manak Chawk Khanda, Chandpole Gate, Badi Chaupad, Chhoti Chaupad, Tripolia Gate, Johri Bazar and Sanganeri Gate. The ammonium nitrate bombs were strapped to bicycles and went off between 7:20 pm and 7:45 pm in the crowded areas. They were wired to timing devices and packed with metal splinters and ball bearings.
The bench held that no aspect of the evidence was proven, and in fact, some of the evidence also appeared to be fabricated. Strictures have been passed against the police and directions have been passed for inquiry against the errant policeman.
The high court said it was cognizant of the heinousness of the crime, but in the absence of any serious investigation, and proof as per law, a conviction could not be recorded on moral persuasion or suspicion alone. Indeed the more heinous the crime, the stricter should be the scrutiny, the court said.
The lead defence counsel was Nitya Ramakrishnan, who represented the principal accused Mohammed Saif and also Saifur Rehman Ansari with her team. Shri Singh and Vishal were counsels for two other accused Sarvar and Salman.
Among other findings, the court held that the allegation of travel of the accused persons between Delhi and Jaipur to commit the crime was not proved, that the purchase by the accused of the bicycles on which bombs were said to explode was not proven and bill books produced by the prosecution to prove such purchase appeared fabricated, and the frame numbers of the crime bicycles (the first and only substantial link) often did not match the bill books, and the dates of purchase also went counter to the police case in more than one instance.
The court also said that the email allegedly sent by one of the accused persons taking responsibility for the blasts on behalf of the Indian Mujahideen was inadmissible in law and material witnesses to prove it were not examined in court. Identification of accused persons by key witnesses was not believed, nor was the meeting of minds to commit a criminal conspiracy proven. Several material witnesses were not examined, leading to an adverse inference against the prosecution, the court said.
An application filed by one of the accused more than a decade ago that he was a juvenile at the time of the commission of the conspiracy, subsequently allowed by a Juvenile Justice Board, was also upheld. The bench directed all five accused to be set at liberty if not required in any other case or for any other purpose…
This story was originally published in thewire.in. Read the full story here