Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has declined bail for three persons, including Kunangudi R.M. Hanifa, in case relating to bomb blasts on trains in 1997.

Justice T. Sudanthiram said the facts of the case were very serious. Bombs were planted on three trains and innocent persons killed and injured. The accused were facing grave charges punishable with death.

Besides Hanifa, Mubarak Ali Khan alias Gani alias Mohammed Gani and J. Abdul Rahim, said they were in custody as undertrials for long. Though the prosecution had examined all witnesses, not a single witness had linked the accused to the crime. In the absence of any material linking them to the offence, their prolonged custody, ranging from nine to 11 years was illegal.

The prosecution submitted that 10 persons were charge sheeted and one accused was absconding. All the accused, who were associated with the militant Islamic Defence Force, hatched a conspiracy to explode bombs on trains starting from Chennai on the evening of December 5, 1997.

The next morning there were explosions on three trains. Ten persons were killed and 72 injured. Trial had come to the final stage. If the accused were enlarged on bail at this stage, they may abscond and it may hamper trial.

Mr. Justice Sudanthiram said though the petitioners contended that even after examination of all witnesses by prosecution, no incriminating material had come out against them, this aspect could not be considered by the High Court at this stage. It was for the trial court to decide. Any observation by this court might prejudice the lower court as trial had come to the final stage. The High Court did not want to decide whether the petitioners were hardcore undertrials or not and whether they were directly involved. It was not proper to release the petitioners on bail, he said.