A day after he broke down in court, Mumbai 1993 blasts convict Feroz Abdul Rashid Khan was fined by the special CBI court on Wednesday for refusing to examine two witnesses he had called to depose in his support. Even as the two witnesses were produced from Taloja central prison, Feroz’s advocate Wahab Khan told the court he was seeking their discharge from deposing at this stage.
Special CBI counsel Deepak Salvi told the court that since one of the witnesses, Vikram Deshmukh, is in custody of the Alibag court and another, Gautam Sore, is serving a life term, special permission had to be taken from the court and the DIG (prisons) to ensure their presence in court. He submitted that cost for the expense incurred in bringing the two to the court in South Mumbai from Taloja central prison in Navi Mumbai should be provided to the state exchequer.
Special Judge G A Sanap observed that the application made by Khan was “frivolous” and “just to kill time”. “The court made it clear to the accused that if they proposed to examine every witness on point of mitigating circumstances, they should do so before commencement of arguments on quantum of punishment…Today it is seen that after the production of witnesses, all of a sudden the advocate has changed his mind with reasons not disclosed,” the court said in its order. When the court asked Khan for reasons for the application, the advocate said he could not disclose them.
Special Judge Sanap allowed the discharge of the witnesses, while directing that the accused pay Rs 2,000 within four days for failure to examine them.
“This exercise on the part of the accused has been undertaken to achieve some purpose which would be presumed to be to delay the hearing, to create unnecessary complication. The party or advocate has a right to change his stand but it shall not obstruct in the judicial process in such an important trial. In this case, it seems that the exercise has been done without applying mind or just to kill time,” he said.
The CBI will begin arguing on the quantum of punishment to be handed out to the convicts from Thursday. On June 16, the special TADA court had convicted six — Feroz, Mustafa Dossa, Abu Salem, Taher Merchant, Karimulla Khan and Riyaz Siddiqui — and acquitted one, Abdul Qayyum, in the 1993 Mumbai blasts case.
Meanwhile, the CBI also cross-examined Feroz, who had on Tuesday deposed as a witness. CBI counsel Salvi questioned Feroz on a pending criminal case filed against him in a magistrate’s court in 2010.