A crucial police witness named by Delhi Police’s Special Cell to support the authenticity of arrests made by them in connection with the serial blasts in the Capital in 2008 has been classified as “hostile” after he failed to correctly identify a key accused in the case.
While recording testimonies of prosecution witnesses at the Sessions Court on October 14, the public prosecutor sought permission to declare Inspector Rajendra Singh Seharawat as “hostile” after he repeatedly failed to identify Mansoor Asgar Peerbhoy, who is accused of being a key conspirator in the blasts.
Sources told The Indian Express that during court proceedings, Seharawat wrongly identified Peerbhoy on three separate instances. Peerbhoy, who worked for Yahoo Inc, is also facing trial for allegedly sending “terror e-mails” to several media organisations minutes before the blasts.
The Special Cell investigated the serial blasts that occurred on September 13, 2008, at Gaffar Market in Karol Bagh, Barakhamba Road and Central Park in Connaught Place, and M-Block Market in Greater Kailash. They also claimed to have recovered a bomb near India Gate.
In 2009, Peerbhoy and two of his alleged associates, Mubin Kader Sheikh and Asif Bashir Sheikh, were charged in the case along with Mohammed Hakim under various provisions of the IPC, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Explosive Substances Act.
Under the CrPC, the investigation officer has to conduct arrests in the presence of a public witness. In this case, Seharawat was named as the witness to authenticate the arrests of the accused, and support search operations and disclosure statements recorded during investigations.
According to court records, Seharawat “initially” identified Mubin as Peerbhoy. Later, he identified another accused Kayamuddin Kapadia as Peerbhoy. On a third occasion, he wrongly identified another accused Shahzad Ahmed as Peerbhoy.
In his order last Saturday, Additional Sessions Judge Sidharth Sharma noted: “At this stage, Additional Public Prosecutor seeks permission to declare the witness hostile on the point of identity of accused Peerbhoy. Heard. Allowed.”
Sources said that after the order was passed, the prosecutor pointed to Peerbhoy, whom Seharawat correctly identified before claiming in court that he had earlier “got confused due to intervention by some persons”.
“The accused Peerbhoy is shown to the witness and the witness is asked if the accused shown is Peerbhoy. Having seen the accused, the witness now correctly identified,” the court said.
“Voluntarily, initially, I had identified this accused only to be Peerbhoy but I got confused due to intervention by some persons,” deposed Seharawat, who is currently posted as Inspector, PCR, North Zone, Delhi.
Advocate Mehmood Pracha, Peerbhoy’s counsel, said, “There are only two possibilities. One, if the witness named by the investigation officer was actually present as witness when the Special Cell arrested Peerbhoy. Second, even if he was present, did they show someone else to him and later arrest Peerbhoy? This shows how the investigation was conducted.”