States

Maudhany’s acquittal upheld

PDP leader A.N.Maudhany. File photo: H. Vibhu

PDP leader A.N.Maudhany. File photo: H. Vibhu   | Photo Credit: H. Vibhu

The Madras High Court on Friday has confirmed an order of the lower court acquitting PDP leader A.N.Maudhany in the case relating to serial blasts in Coimbatore on February 14, 1998.

A Division Bench consisting of Justices Prabha Sridevan and M.Sathyanarayanan also dismissed a revision petition seeking to enhance the life sentence awarded to the Al-Umma (since banned) leader, S.A.Basha, to one of death sentence.

The High Court confirmed the life sentence on Md.Ansari alias Ansari and 17 others while it acquitted Basith alias Md.Basith and 21 others who were sentenced to life imprisonment by the lower court.

Fifty-eight persons died and over 250 were injured in the blasts, which coincided with the visit of BJP leader L.K.Advani to Coimbatore to attend an election rally.

The State had not filed any appeal against the acquittal of some of the accused nor for enhancement of sentence for others. Revision petitions had been filed by some witnesses against the acquittal and for enhancement of sentence.

The appellants attacked the trial court judgment on several grounds, including that the investigation was tainted, clubbing of cases was illegal and there was selective prosecution of Al Umma organisation. There was no evidence of conspiracy, transportation of explosives, manufacture, distribution and planting of bombs.

Prefacing its judgment, the Bench observed that February 14, 1998 was a “day of unimaginable terror and horror as bombs continuously exploded in the city of Coimbatore. The State of Tamil Nadu had never before been subjected to something like this. It was a massacre of the innocents.”

Holding that the blasts were the product of one single plot, the Judges said there was evidence that what happened on February 14, 1998 was the result of the conspiracy. The Bench accepted the prosecution case of conspiracy on February 7, 1998 in Chennai with regard to S.A.Basha, Md.Ansari and six others.

It said the prosecution case was that the explosives were procured from Karnataka for which it heavily relied on the approver evidence of Riaz-ur Rehman. But he had not supported the prosecution in the witness box. His evidence was of no use. Documents seized would be of no use even if they referred to sale of explosives unless they were connected unmistakably with the occurrence. The prosecution had not been able to prove that explosives sold by Mr.Rehman were used for the occurrence. The evidence relating to procurement from Kerala was even less incriminating.

The High Court closed the appeals filed by 14 persons as they were released on September 15 as per a G.O. Appeals by two persons were treated as closed as they were also released as per a court order in October this year under the Juvenile Justice Act.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 12:31:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/states/Maudhanyrsquos-acquittal-upheld/article16854150.ece

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