“Just being a Muslim does not mean they will speak Urdu,” the special court has said in its judgment while discarding one of the arguments put up by the defence that the mother tongue of all the accused in the 7/11 serial blasts was Urdu. The defence argued that use of pure Hindi words in the confessional statements was an indication of a dictation or drafting by a person well acquainted with Hindi, stressing that the language used in the statements was not of any of the accused.
Additionally, the defence argued, the confessions were not only extracted under duress but also fabricated. The court upheld the authenticity of the confessions while discarding factors such as torture, recording of statement before police officer instead of the magistrate and common oddities in the confessional statements, as pointed out by the defense.
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“To my mind, what the learned advocate is saying is impossible in Mumbai. There is no evidence by the accused except their words that their mother tongue is Urdu. Except the A1 (Kamal Ansari), A5 (Majid Mohammed Shafi) , A10 (Suhail Shaikh) and A13 (Asif Khan), remaining accused are Mumbaikars. Just being a Muslim, does not mean that they will speak pure Urdu,” observed special judge Y D Shinde.
Further, it observed, “One does not talk as per perfect dictionary Urdu words.”On the point of custodial torture being meted out to the accused, it was argued that all accused made complaints of third degree torture, threat and forced signatures at the hands of the DCPs and ATS officers on November 9, 2006.
It was argued by the defence, said the court, that the record of the magistrate court or the special court did not show that they had asked the accused about their complaints against the police, though at some places it was written that there was no complaint against the police.
“This is nothing but casting aspersions on the magistrates or the special judge,” said the court. Shinde added that invariably every accused was asked by all the judicial officers about ill-treatment, if any, in police custody when produced in court. Such type of allegations, he said, were baseless and just made for the “sake of making it”.
Considering the extent and nature of the alleged torture that led to signing of confessional statements on blank papers, the court observed that it was not probable that the accused would have remained quiet till they submitted their retraction applications after over two months.
On the argument of common mistakes in the confessional statements, the court observed, “That merely on the basis of such commonality, it would be preposterous to draw the conclusion that the confessional statements themselves are fabricated and were dictated or prepared by a single authority.”“Positive statements,” said the court, emerged from the examination of a senior police officer, who was briefed by officers who were handling the interrogation of the accused. The court accepted the statement of this officer, who said all accused confessed as the “entire story” behind the conspiracy had been revealed to the police.
The judge said the officer said it voluntarily when probed about it during cross examination. Therefore, he said, the statement “closes the issue” of the reason why the accused expressed willingness to give their confessional statements.“Though, he (officer) admitted that he did not record statements of those officers and there is no evidence before the court about the accused having expressed their desire before the said officers, he emphatically denied the suggestion that he is unable to tell what type of interrogation the officers carried on,” the court added.
It was argued that the accused were not produced before the magistrate, which was close to the Bhoiwada lock-up where they were lodged, but were taken to the DCPs who were located at greater distances. “I am afraid, but the submissions are totally unacceptable and no such inference as submitted can be drawn only because the confessional statements have been recorded under Section 18 of the MCOC Act,” reasoned Shinde. The provision allows for certain confessions made to the police officer taken into consideration.