Pakistan infringed international law, says Supreme Court

“It is devastating to state that Pakistan, being a member of the United Nations, whose primary object is to maintain international peace and security, has infringed the recognised principles under international law which obligate all states to prevent terrorist attacks emanating from their territory and inflicting injuries on other states,” the Supreme Court observed, referring to the support extended by Islamabad to terrorists to facilitate the 1993 Mumbai blasts.

Writing the judgment, Justice Sathasivam said: “The accused arrived in Pakistan for training and they were received by ISI operatives who took them out of the airport without observing any immigration formalities. Meaning thereby, they had a green channel entry and exit in Pakistan. Another confession reveals that they received training from ISI officials themselves on some occasions. These events unveil the tolerance and encouragement shown by Pakistan towards terrorism. A host-state that has the capability to prevent a terrorist attack but fails to do so will inherently fail in fulfilling its duty under Article 2(4) of the Convention since terrorism amounts to force by definition.”

Trained in Pakistan

The Bench said: “The arrangement for their training was made by Dawood Ibrahim (absconding accused), Anees Ibrahim, Mohd. Dossa, A-136 and Salim Bismillah Khan (deceased). A-94, A-98 and A-100 in their confessional statements have stated that during February 1993 the accused persons were sent, in batches, from Bombay to Dubai and Dubai to Islamabad, where they were given training by ISI/Army personnel in different camps. A careful reading of the confessional statements of the convicted accused exposes that a large number of the accused, including the absconders, received training in making of bombs by using RDX and other explosives, handling of sophisticated automatic weapons like AK-56 rifles and hand grenades in Pakistan, which was organised and methodically carried out by Dawood Ibrahim, Anees Ibrahim, Mohd. Dossa and Salim Bismillah Khan. The training received in Pakistan materialised in the unfortunate serial blasts in Bombay on 12 March 1993.”

The Bench said a responsible state owed an obligation not only to another state but also to the international community as a whole.

Indicting police officers for their involvement, the Bench said: “Unfortunately, in the present case the police officers themselves have taken active part in smuggling and transportation of arms and explosives in Bombay... Had the Bombay police officials been able to curtail the conveyance of the contraband in January and February 1993, the occurrence of 12 March 1993 could have been avoided.”

Ethics lacking

On the role of Customs officials, it said:

“It is shattering to notice that all grades of Customs officers, including Commissioners of Customs, played an active role as members of conspiracy and implemented the plan. Every kind of smuggling activity is devastating to the economy, but the smuggling of dangerous arms and ammunitions causes wreckage not only of the economy but also of people’s lives.

“The occurrence of the Bombay bomb blasts brings us to the reality that such incidents take place along the Indian coastline irrespective of the numerous laws and safeguards provided due to a lack of moral ethics and misconduct on the part of the officials. Customs being a significant source of government revenue, the officers of Customs Department must perform their respective duties honestly and diligently.

“It will not be an overstatement to state that if not for the help of the Customs officials, they [convicts] would not have been in a position to smuggle the weapons required for the blasts. A rationally structured and effective Customs department is the need of the hour in order to curtail illegal imports.

“Corruption among public servants indicates a failure of our system where pursuit of personal gratification subdues the public interest. The role of the Coast Guard is as important as military troops. Only well-strategised Coast Guards and high-moral Customs officers can prevent an attack on our country via our maritime boundary.”

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