V.S. Palaniappan

Coimbatore: Defence counsel in the Coimbatore serial blasts case on Saturday questioned the legal validity of the trial of one of the undefended undertrials.

Defence counsel Bhavani B Mohan and P. Thirumalairajan submitted their arguments before the judge of the special court for bomb blast cases K. Uthirapathy. T. Balasundaram and T.A. Selvaraj represented the prosecution. More than 50 persons were killed and 250 persons were injured in the serial blasts of February 14, 1998. Prosecution had accused two undertrials in this case, one of having handed over a bomb-laden motorcycle to the other and the other of having parked it in the parking stand at the railway station.

The blast at the Railway Mail Service (RMS) office at Coimbatore Junction on February 14, 1998 claimed one person while nine sustained injuries. The defence had already questioned the validity of the First Information Report (FIR). It said the prosecuting agency had commenced the investigations on February 14, 1998 itself, whereas the complaint was received and an FIR was registered only on February 16, 1998. The prosecution had shown the undertrial to the eyewitness even before the identification parade at the Central Prison in the presence of the magistrate.

This had rendered the identification parade legally invalid and not sustainable against the accused, the defence counsel argued.

The trial of one of the "undefended undertrials" was not legally sustainable, the defence said. The counsel appointed for him had withdrawn from the case subsequently.

The particular undertrial had remained "undefended" (in the absence of a state brief counsel) when the trial and examination of witnesses had taken place in respect of the charges against him.