SC describes incarceration of Kashmiri man for over 16 years as 'shame'

SC describes incarceration of Kashmiri man for over 16 years as 'shame'
The Supreme Court on Tuesday described as “shame” the prolonged incarceration of a Kashmiri man for over 16 years on terror charges despite his acquittal in 10 out of 11 cases.
 
A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud ordered for release of Gulzar Ahmad Wani from November 1, 2017 on bail if the prosecution failed to record evidence of material witnesses in the Sabarmati Express train blast case lodged against him Uttar Pradesh's Barabanki district.
 
Wani, a PhD scholar of Aligarh Muslim University, was arrested in Delhi on July 30, 2001 for being a member of militant outfit Hizbul Majahiden and allegedly carrying out, along with others, blasts across Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra. Baramulla-resident Wani is now 43. At present, he is facing trial in the case relating to Sabarmati train blast that claimed lives of nine people and left scores other injured.
 
His counsel sought bail saying that out of 11 criminal cases, registered against him, he has been acquitted in 9 cases. During the pendency of his bail petition, he has been exonerated in 10 th case as well.
 
Senior advocate P N Mishra, appearing for Uttar Pradesh government, submitted that the accused has not been in custody in all these years in the present case, relating to the Sabarmati train blast.
 
Expressing its shock over the state government's response, the bench said, “Out of 11 cases, he has been acquitted in 10 cases. What a shame!”
 
“The problem is that you want to keep him inside the jail but not lead evidence and complete the trial. He was acquitted in all other cases,” the bench said, also noticing that his co-accused had already been released on bail.
 
The court noted on December 14, 2015, when Wani's plea was admitted for consideration, he had remained in jail for 14 years. It was also disclosed that only six out of 96 witnesses were examined by then. By September 9, 2016, only 20 prosecution witnesses were examined.
 
The court had then directed for conclusion of recording of the evidence within six months. But so far, the trial was not complete.
 
“You seem to be very casual,” the bench told the UP government. The court ordered, “We consider it just and appropriate to direct for completion of examination of material witnesses by October 31. If it is not complete by then, the petitioner shall be enlarged on bail on November 1.”

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