A group of activists under the banner of the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA) has questioned the trial court verdict convicting Shahzad Ahmad in the Batla House encounter case. They argued that the evidence against Shahzad was not “beyond reasonable doubt”. The verdict failed to appreciate the evidence presented by the defence and further ignored the gaping loopholes in the Delhi Police story, they argued.
A Delhi Court on July 25 upheld the police’s version of Shahzad being present at L 18, Batla House, on September 19, 2008, and that he had fled while firing at the police. The court gave life sentence to Shahzad for firing at the police during the encounter resulting in the death of Special Cell Inspector M.C. Sharma.
While releasing a report titled, “Beyond reasonable doubt? The Conviction of Shahzad Ahmad”, JTSA president Manisha Sethi argued that the Delhi Police presented only “circumstantial evidence” against Shahzad to “indict the accused of crimes of the highest order and demanded death penalty”, but the evidences were “so ridden with contradictions and inconsistency” that even the slightest scrutiny would collapse the entire police case.
While arguing that the court totally dismissed the defence arguments without giving any reason, she gave instance of the ballistic report, which said that from the spot of the encounter no extra bullet was found, which can be attributed to the alleged gun of Shahzad.
“The police charge sheet accused him of firing two rounds at the police party before fleeing. But as per the ballistic report, every bullet recovered from the spot had a matching gun, which either belonged to the police or the two guns allegedly attributed to Atif and Sajid,” she argued.
“So, the ballistic report in a sense demolishes the entire police case that Shahzad had a gun through which he fired and later fled with; and that he later destroyed that gun. This fact was ignored by the trial court,” added Ms. Sethi.
Citing evidence, which she argued went “unnoticed” by the court, Ms. Sethi said this “raises the question if Shahzad was there at all”.
“All the witnesses, who claim to have seen Shahzad fleeing during the encounter, fail to provide the court with any description of Shahzad. Yet, they were able to identify the accused as one of the escapees later during the trial,” she added.
“The court took no notice of the above discrepancy wherein an ‘eyewitness’ who is unable to describe the escapee, is later able to identify him,” she added.
Satish Tamta, Shahzad’s lawyer, argued that the Court did not appreciate the prosecution witnesses, who by their own admission virtually made the escape of Shahzad during the encounter almost impossible, and also substituted the loopholes in the police narrative by its own story.
“There were only two ways to escape, the roof and the staircase. Now, the police witnesses who were blocking the stairway, which is a very narrow path with grill fitted on it, themselves said that they did not see Shahzad going down. There was practically no way he could have escaped through the roof as he could not have jumped from the fifth floor,” said Mr. Tamta.
“Now, the Court in its judgment comes up with a new theory that he could have fled through the staircase, passing himself as one of the residents and later he may have been hidden in the flats, which were not checked by the police. This was an argument which was never the prosecution’s case,” Mr. Tamta added.