India miffed at Pak court verdict, will seek details

The order will affect Delhis call for action against 26/11 plotters

India’s hope of seeking prosecution of the perpetrators of the 26/11 terror strike took a beating following a Pakistan court’s verdict refusing to accept the evidence collected by their judicial commission during their New Delhi trip.

India will now seek information from Islamabad the legal steps they would take to revive the case in their courts after a Rawalpindi court order further delayed action against Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and others in the audacious terror attack, which claimed 166 lives in Mumbai.

“Our belief is that the evidence collected by the commission is of evidential value,” Home Secretary R K Singh told reporters at North Block, while reacting on the Rawalpindi court judgment rejecting findings of the commission that visited India.  

This huge setback to normalisation of relations between the two countries came a day after the Indian government gave tacit approval to the BCCI to invite the cricket team from Pakistan to visit India for resumption of ties after five years.

The Pakistan commission, which included prosecutors and defence lawyers, had visited Mumbai to interview a judge, a senior police officer and two doctors who conducted the autopsies on the terrorists bodies involved in the attacks and their victims. The panel members were also given a copy of the lone surviving Pakistani terrorist Kasab’s statement.

The home secretary said the government would seek a copy of the court ruling from Pakistan government through the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. “After we go through the judgment, we will discuss with the Pakistan government as to what they propose to do about it,” he said.

Ministry sources said that the agreement reached between the two nations did not provide for cross-examining the witnesses by the visiting commission.

However, the commission on arriving here did raise this issue which was denied in the absence of a statutory backing.

The Indian government would like to assist its counterpart across the border to the extent that it leads to terrorists’ conviction on its own soil. At the same time, the government has reservations over joining trial in Pakistan court due to lack of trust, contrary to what the American FBI did in the 26/11 court case in Mumbai.  

The MHA officials have also “not closed their mind” to the other fact raised in the Pakistan court of sending another commission for cross-examining witnesses.  But, that would happen only if Pakistan shows interest on resending their panel and that move is legally feasible here, sources added.  

The government will take the next step after consulting legal experts in Delhi to rule out any adverse impact it might have on the case and the bilateral relation if they agree to host a Pakistan commission again.

Otherwise too, Pakistan President Asif Zardari has not responded to an Indian commission going to Pakistan to collect evidence of the conspiracy hatched to launch the terrorist attack on Mumbai.   

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