Adam Bhai Sulemanbhai Ajmeri and Abdul Kayum alias Muftisaab Mohmedbhai, who were convicted by a Special POTA Court in Gujarat and awarded death sentence in connection with the Akshardham temple attack case, told the Supreme Court on Monday that the investigation was faulty. The Gujarat High Court had affirmed the Special POTA Court verdict.
On their plea that challenged the High Court verdict, the Supreme Court stayed the death sentence and issued notice to Gujarat.
The Bench, consisting of Justices B. Sudershan Reddy and S.S. Nijjar, after hearing senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi and counsel Anis Suhrawardy for the appellants, also issued notice to the CBI on an application for reinvestigation of the case.
Shan Miya alias Chand Khan, the third terrorist who was awarded death sentence, is yet to file an appeal.
The Bench issued notice to Gujarat on appeals filed by Mohmed Salim Hanif, who was awarded life sentence, and Abdullamiya Yasinmiya Kadri, who got 10-year rigorous imprisonment.
The prosecution case was that a group of militants, allegedly belonging to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba attacked the temple in Ahmedabad on September 24, 2002, killing 37 people and injuring several others. The special POTA court found the appellants guilty and slapped death and other sentences on them. The High Court confirmed this order. The appellants said the investigation was faulty as the investigating officer had no jurisdiction to investigate the case. The very foundation of fair trial contained under Article 21 of the Constitution was thrown to the winds by not even following the bare minimum requirements of natural justice. As many as 14 witnesses were examined without disclosing to the accused their identity. They sought to quash the impugned judgment and an interim stay of its operation.
Ishrat Jahan case
Meanwhile, in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case, the Supreme Court Bench gave liberty to the Gujarat High Court to pass an appropriate order for constituting a separate special investigation team to probe the case. The SIT, led by former CBI Director R.K. Raghavan, had expressed its inability to take up the probe.
The Bench, while adjourning the hearing of the appeal filed by Ishrat's mother Shamina Kausar against the High Court order entrusting the probe to the SIT, asked the High Court to consider the application filed by the SIT in this regard.
Keywords: Akshardham temple attack case