The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the trial of all cases connected to 2008 bomb blasts and pending before a Special Court in Ahmedabad.

A Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and T.S. Thakur, after hearing counsel Prashant Bhushan, stayed the trial on a petition filed by 63 accused. They wanted the cases out of Gujarat as they feared that the judicial machinery in the State was biased against them.

The Bench issued notice to Gujarat on the petition filed by Jahid Shaikh and 62 others in the Sabarmati prisons.

The petition alleged that following a series of blasts in the country in 2008, there was a knee-jerk reaction in Gujarat and 64 Muslim youths were rounded up. Of them, 22 belonged to Gujarat and the remaining to eight States.

“Most of those arrested have no evidence against them and were held on false or frivolous grounds. In nearly all the cases, the judicial machinery failed to check their illegal detention and, instead allowed several extension of police remand on the basis of series of FIRs [first information reports],” it said.

The jail authorities, the petitioners alleged, withheld all the letters sent to them and gave only photocopies. The State had stifled their rights and the communal atmosphere led them to seriously apprehend, besides prejudice and bias against them in the trial, their very own safety and security in the State.

They alleged that the manner in which the police, jail authorities and courts had dealt with them clearly indicated that if matters were allowed to continue in Gujarat the same would prove fatal to the trial.

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