Raghuvanshi, top lawyers welcome verdict, convicts to appeal

Raghuvanshi, top lawyers welcome verdict, convicts to appeal

Raghuvanshi, top lawyers welcome verdict, convicts to appeal

 Former ATS chief K P Raghuvanshi today welcomed the court verdict in the 2006 serial blasts on Mumbai local trains, saying it had vindicated the efforts of his team of officers which conducted the probe even as the defence counsel said they will appeal in the High Court.

"I congratulate all my 15 officers, who had probed the case. The verdict is a vindication of our efforts. I am happy that the court has appreciated the evidence and given an appropriate quantum of punishment in the case," he told PTI.

Five persons were sentenced to death and seven others imprisoned for life by a special court here for the serial blasts that left 189 commuters dead and over 800 injured.

Soon after the quantum of sentence was pronounced, Raghuvanshi arrived at the city sessions court here and said, "I am satisfied with the quantum announced by the court. I would have been more happy had all the convicted been awarded death sentence."

"All the claims of people who had accused us of arresting the wrong people have been proved false. With this verdict, police's credibility has increased. The judgement proves that truth cannot be hidden," he told reporters.

Leading lawyers too hailed the decision of the court.
"I welcome the verdict because in this case the evidence was circumstantial and the prosecution was able to successfully prove the guilt of the accused," said Ujjwal Nikam, a leading public prosecutor who has appeared on behalf the state in many terror-related cases.

Nikam said that the court had accepted that there was a criminal conspiracy to create the serial blasts during peak hours in local trains. However, in a criminal conspiracy all the conspirators have an equal role to play and they are also responsible individually and collectively for the terror act. Therefore, all the convicts should have got death punishment.

However, advocate Sharif Shaikh, who defended some of the convicts in this case, said, "They have been falsely implicated by the ATS (prosecuting agency). We shall appeal in the Bombay High Court. All those ATS officers who have fabricated evidence in this case will go behind bars."

The case had seen a twist when the defence lawyer sought to call Indian Mujahideen co-founder Sadiq Sheikh as defence witness after he told the police in 2008 that IM members were responsible for all the blasts that happened since 2005 including the train blasts.

The court had allowed examination of Sadiq as a defence witness but he later claimed that he gave his confession under duress.

Leading defence lawyer Majeed Memon said the verdict was expected to be "harsh" because a serious offence had been committed against the society. However, the death penalty imposed on five convicts would assume finality only after the Bombay High Court confirms the punishment awarded to convicts.

"The learned trial judgde not only found five persons guilty of offences punishable with death but also has expressed his opinion that these cases fall in the category of rarest of the rare as defined by Supreme court," Memon said.

At the same time, he said that the execution of death sentence takes years in India which is against the spirit of natural justice and the process to give finality to sentence must be expedited.

"It must be remembered that in our system even if death sentences is imposed, the actual execution takes years and often over a decade. This is against the spirit of justice and the whole process of giving finality to death penalty culminating into actual execution should be expedited and must not take unduly long time," Memon added. 

Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra (Arshad Madni), which had provided legal aid to 13 accused in the 7/11 train blasts case, today said it will file an appeal in the Bombay High Court against the conviction and sentence awarded to 12 of them by a special MCOCA court.

One accused was acquitted by the special court on September 11 due to lack of evidence, while 12 others were convicted.

"We shall challenge the judgement on the instruction of President Jamiat Ulama I Hind Maulana Sayyed Arshad Madani," said Gulzar Azmi, Secretary of Legal Aid cell of Jamiat Ulama-e-Maharashtra, while reacting to the verdict.

"We respect the court order, but would move the appropriate court in an appeal to challenge the verdict and hire the best lawyers to argue the matter," he said, adding that one of the accused, Abdul Wahid, has been found innocent nearly a decade after the incident.

According to him, the prosecution had failed to prove that at the time of incident, the accused were in different locations of the blasts and were in touch with each other.

The defence team have proved through call data records (CDR) of the accused that they were neither present at the blasts sites nor they were in touch with each other at the time of blast. Yet, the court has not considered this aspect, Azmi said.

"Those who faced the trial have repeatedly said that they have played no role but this aspect was not considered. The 7/11 case is complex. It is linked to several other issues. We would put all these aspects in the court," he said.

"We have been providing legal aid to innocent Muslim youths who have been arrested in terror cases. Before we do that, we scrutinise every document and speak to their family members. Once we are convinced, then only we provide legal aid. We would help the 7/11 convicts also," he said.

According to Azmi, in the past also the Supreme Court has overturned the trial court verdict and awarded relief to accused, particularly in Akshardham temple attack case and Kolkata American Consulate case.

The Jamiat has provided legal aid to accused in other cases such as 26/11 terror trial, Malegaon blasts case (2006), Aurangabad Arms haul case (2006), Mulund blast case, Gateway of India blasts case and 13/7 Mumbai triple blasts case.

It has also provided legal aid to accused in Arthur Road jail assault case, Indian Mujahideen cases (Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai), Akshardham attack case, Kolkata American Centre attack case, Haren Pandya murder trial, Qateel Siddiqui murder probe and Mozawalla case (Official Secrets Act).

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