2012: Judiciary Doubts Its Power Under Anti-Terror Law

Akanksha Jain and Abhishek Anshu/New Delhi
2012: Judiciary Doubts Its Power Under Anti-Terror Law
Year 2012 saw the trial courts dealing with several terror cases including those of the 26/11 Mumbai attack coordinator Abu Jundal and terror strike on an Israeli diplomat here, while also grappling with an intricate legal question on their powers under the anti-terror law.

As the Delhi Police went about catching many wanted terrorists involved in strikes across India, the year saw a motorcycle-borne terror module sticking an explosive on an Israeli diplomat's car and blowing it up a few hundred yards away from the Prime Minister's official residence, 7, RCR on February 13.

The terror attack led to the arrest of Indian journalist Syed Mohammad Kazmi in March for his alleged role in the blast with the prosecution booking him on charges of various offences under anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Explosive Substances Act and the court denying him bail twice.

As a magisterial court, while denying him bail, also extended the probe period in the case, Kazmi moved a sessions court challenging extension of the probe period in the case beyond 90 days.

While adjudicating Kazmi's plea, the sessions court put "a big question mark" on the magisterial court's power to extend his remand under the UAPA and questioned police for continuing to produce Kazmi and others booked under the UAPA before the magisterial courts for extension of their remands.

The intricate legal point did not remain restricted to Kazmi's case alone and was raised by five Pune blast accused to contest Mumbai ATS plea for their custody.

Besides the arrest of Jundal on June 21, the Special Cell of Delhi Police also arrested Fasih Mehmood, the alleged "key facilitator" in various terror attacks across the country and deported from Saudi Arabia amid controversy over his whereabouts with his wife Nikhat Parveen approaching the Supreme Court claiming her husband was in the custody of Indian security agencies, a charge denied by the Government.

Following arrests of Jundal, Fasih, the Pune blast accused and other Indian Mujahideen operatives, the Delhi court saw various agencies like Mumbai ATS, Mumbai CID, National Investigation Agency, Gujarat ATS etc. Making a beeline before it to secure their custody in a string of terror cases lodged in various states.

The year also had a Delhi court issuing non-bailable warrants against Pakistani-American David Coleman Headley, his accomplice Tahawwur Rana, LeT founder Hafiz Saeed and 26/11 Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi for allegedly executing various terror strikes in India.

The court has also issued NBWs against Pakistan Army officials Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali, Al-Qaeda operative Illyas Kashmiri, Headley's handler Sajid Malik and former Pakistani Army officer Abdul Rehman Hashmi, co-accused in the case.

The NIA had charge-sheeted them last year for their alleged roles in various terror strike in India, while detailing the 293-day stay of Headley in India to carry out surveillance of various crucial installations, including recce of Mumbai before the 26/11 terror strikes.

The year also saw beginning of trial of one of the accused in the September 7, 2011 terror strike at the Delhi High Court, allegedly aimed at getting commuted the death penalty of the December 2001 Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru to life sentence.

The court framed charges against accused Wasim Akram Malik under the strict anti-terror UAP Act and a string of other offences under IPC. The high court blast had claimed 15 lives and injured 79 others.

Meanwhile, with the year drawing to a close, a Delhi court concluded the re-trial of Pakistani national and the 1997 Delhi Blueline bus blast case convict Mohammad Hussain after the Supreme Court set aside his death sentence and ordered a re-trial on his plea that he was not represented by a counsel during the trial.

Hussain, a native of Jindrakhar village in Okara, Pakistan, was sentenced to death in November 2004 by the trial court. The sentence had been upheld by the high court in August 2006.
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