Madras HC upholds Madhani acquittal

Madras HC upholds Madhani acquittal

Abdul Nazer Madhani

S A Basha, the founder-chief of the banned Muslim fundamentalist outfit, Al-Umma, and the prime accused in the bomb blasts that killed 58 people and injured over 200, will have to continue to serve life-term along with 18 other key accused in the case.  The high court acquitted 22 others sentenced to life by a lower court in 2007.

Trial judge Uthirapathi had sentenced 44 accused, including Basha, to life imprisonment in the long-drawn-out case. The judge had also acquitted controversial PDP leader Abdul Madhani and seven others for their alleged role in masterminding the blasts and aiding the accused. The trial court had sentenced 64 others for lesser offences to varying terms from three to 13 years.

K Vellingiri, father of one of the blast victims, had filed two separate revision petitions, one challenging Madhani’s acquittal, and the second seeking enhancement of life sentence awarded to Basha and others to death penalty.

Petitions dismissed

A division bench of the high court, comprising Justice Prabha Sridevan and Justice M Satyanarayanan, dismissed both petitions. This in effect upheld the lower court’s order vis-à-vis Madhani’s acquittal and the continuance of life term for Basha.

The judges accepted the prosecution case including conspiracy with regard to the 18 key accused, inclusive of top Al-Umma functionaries like Mohammed Ansari, sentenced to life by the trial court.

However, the high court allowed the appeals by 22 others facing life sentence in the case and ordered their release forthwith, unless their custody was required in any other case.

Sridevan closed the appeals of 14 others convicted with lesser sentences, as they had already been given remission by the State Government on September 15, 2009.
In the fourth batch, appeals by two other accused were also “closed”, as they were already released in October last under the Juvenile Justice Act.

The judges observed there were sufficient reasons not to rescind the prosecution case. For the “innocent victims, it was really a bolt from the blue, undeserved and incomprehensible,” Justice Sridevan observed.

Concluding that “nothing can justify what happened,” the judges said: “We bemoan the violence and the futility of it all. We do not think even the plotters would have felt happy after the event. A great deal more can be achieved if the ‘yuddha,’ the ‘jihad,’ the crusade is launched on injustice and evils like poverty and illiteracy.”

Quoting a Nazi victim’s words that the best thing about the “remedy of forgiveness” is that it has no side effects and everybody can afford it, the judges said “we were quite moved” when a few police officers, while giving evidence, had said their religion and caste was “Indian.” They added: “When the policemen are found guilty of lapses, we condemn them loudly.”

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