Marking an end to the year-long 26/11 trial, the special sessions court here on Wednesday announced May 3, 2010, as “the day of judgment.” Judge M.L. Tahaliyani announced the date after the defence lawyer for the third and last accused, Sabahuddin Ahmed, concluded his final arguments.
On May 3, the court will give its verdict on the various charges against Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, and co-accused Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin. The recording of the judgment will be done in April.
“May 3 ko faisla hoga aapka [Verdict will be pronounced for you on May 3],” Mr. Tahaliyani informed Kasab, who appeared unmoved by the announcement. He did not interact with his lawyer K.P. Pawar on Wednesday and has not done so in a long time.
Speaking to The Hindu over phone, Mr. Pawar said, “I have tried to put my case successfully. I have submitted my arguments in writing. So, there is no fear of leaving anything out. My work was to show the improbability of evidence, which I have done. I am satisfied with my arguments on all accounts. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on my expectations at this point.”
A total of 86 charges have been framed in the case. The three accused face charges of waging war, criminal conspiracy and those under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act among others.
The trial which began on April 15 last year had 191 hearings during which 653 witnesses were examined by the prosecution. The final arguments began on March 9 and lasted through the month with the prosecution laying out its case over a span of 11 days.
Sabahuddin's lawyer Ejaz Naqvi said his client was “innocent” and should be given the benefit of doubt. He said the prosecution had not brought anything on record to prove that Nuruddin Mehboob Shaikh, the only eyewitness against his client, had ever been to Kathmandu, in Nepal. He termed the witness “bogus.”
He blamed the prosecution for remaining silent on the role of American terror operative David Coleman Headley. “The prosecution spoke about the historic depositions by the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigations], but there is nothing on what the FBI has investigated about Headley.”
The court said that since Headley was in the FBI custody, he was not its lookout. “At present we can't discuss these things. The Home Ministry is doing what it wants to do,” Mr. Tahaliyani said.
As for the map, which Sabahuddin allegedly conveyed to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Mr. Naqvi said Kasab and his partner Abu Ismail's movements in the city are not as per the directions of the handmade sketch. Referring to Kasab's confession where he names Sabahuddin, Mr. Naqvi said since all the trainees were assigned different aliases, Sabahuddin could be anybody, other than his client.
The court expressed its displeasure over Mr. Naqvi's seemingly tenuous arguments, which had the courtroom in splits on certain occasions. When they were concluded, Mr. Tahaliyani told Mr. Naqvi, “I thought you would present serious arguments. I am disappointed.”
Mr. Tahaliyani posed four queries to the prosecution. It emerged from Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam's replies to them that the investigators had not taken any steps to verify Nuruddin Shaikh's visit to Kathmandu. The map which was recovered from Ismail's pocket was not examined for bloodstains and for traces of Ismail's DNA.
Asked if the handmade sketch would have served the purpose of navigation better than what was already available, Mr. Nikam answered it was difficult to establish what went on in the minds of the Lashkar handlers.