A new judge conducted the proceedings against the seven accused in the Mumbai attacks case on Saturday, but their indictment continues to hang in the balance and the case has been adjourned until November 7.
The case is now in Rawalpindi’s Anti-Terrorism Court 1, presided over by judge Malik Mohammed Akram Awan, after being transferred from ATC 2 on the orders of the Lahore High Court.
The High Court ordered the transfer on an application by the judge of ATC 2, Baqir Ali Rana, who said he no longer wanted to hear the case after a row with the defence lawyers over the manner in which he framed charges against the seven suspects, including top Laskhar-e-Taiba operatives Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah.
The lawyers had also sought a transfer of the case, but the High Court ordered it on Mr. Rana’s application.
The case first came to ATC 1 on October 26 but the proceedings on that day were only a formality as the defence lawyers were not present, and the hearing was adjourned to Saturday.
Malik Mohammed Rafiq Khan, one of the lawyers in the defence team, said the defence lawyers did not show up in court at that hearing as they had not been informed of the date of the hearing subsequent to the transfer.
Cite court ruling
In Saturday’s proceedings in ATC1, held in the maximum-security Adiala Prison, the defence lawyers demanded attested copies of all the documents attached to the “challans” or charges submitted by the Federal Investigating Agency to the court.
They also brought to the notice of the court a ruling of the Rawalpindi Bench of the Lahore High Court earlier this week that the new trial court would first hear the objections and the grievances of the defence team before reading out the charges framed by the previous trial court.
The trial court had not yet received the order by the Rawalpindi Bench. Mr. Khan told The Hindu that the defence team, comprising himself, Khwaja Sultan and Shahbaz Rajput, had already moved an application in the court listing their objections, and this was likely to be taken up at the next hearing.