The Gujarat High Court on Monday admitted two separate petitions moved by 10 undertrials, including the alleged face of the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) Safdar Nagori, in the 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts cases, seeking cancellation of their last month transfer to the Bhopal Central Jail from the Sabarmati Central Jail here.
In May, Nagori had written a letter to the special designated court from Sabarmati Central Jail “expressing fear for his life”, referring to the Bhopal encounter incident in which eight alleged SIMI members were tracked and killed hours after they “escaped” from the Bhopal Central Jail on October 31, 2016. Nagori’s lawyer D D Pathan said, “On 8 May, Nagori faxed a letter to the special court, saying that he feared for his life in a Madhya Pradesh jail and that’s why he should not be transferred.
He also handed over a letter to me which I gave to his relative. He also sent a letter to the Gujarat High Court. I couldn’t mention this letter in the petition, since I couldn’t get the certified copy from the courts in time.” Pathan said initially the undertrials were transferred to the Indore Central Jail as per the original order, but later they were shifted to the Bhopal Central Jail. Justice A Y Kogje admitted the petitions and posted the matter for further hearing on June 28.
During the proceedings, the Madhya Pradesh government was made party to the petitions, following a request from the special public prosecutor on behalf of the state government, while the Inspector General of Police, Prisons, Gujarat, was also added as a respondent. The accused were ordered to be shifted to the Indore Central Jail, after the Sabarmati jail SP wrote to the special designated court, informing that they have been sentenced to life in February this year in a separate terror-related case by a CBI court in Indore.
However, the public prosecutors moved an application and got the order stayed on the ground that there was no video conference facility at the Indore jail. Later, according to Pathan, the facility was installed there and then the court passed a final transfer order. The accused have challenged their transfer, arguing that several legal procedures were not followed. They have alleged in the petitions that their transfer would curtail their right to consult lawyers on weekly basis in jail in the Ahmedabad bomb blasts case.
It says, “…there is no provision or sanction of law which mandates compulsory removal of any undertrial prisoner from a jail to one state, even if the trial may be going on a day-to-day basis, to another state merely to serve out his sentence, particularly when the wishes of the prisoner concerned has not been obtained.” The petitioners have also said that the right of transfer of undertrial lies with the IG Prisons and not with the superintendent of police.
The accused have also said neither they nor their lawyers were informed prior to the special court passing the transfer order. On May 24, four of the accused had moved the High Court against the transfer order, which was considered by the vacation bench of Justice B N Karia. Justice Karia ordered the High Court Legal Aid Services Committee to provide legal aid to the petitioners.
However, three days later the prisoners were transferred to Indore. The others to move the High Court are Hafiz Hussain Mulla, Mohammed Ansar, Saduli Abdul Karim, Ahmedbeg Mirza, Kamruddin Chand Nagori, Amil Parvez Shaikh, Mohammed Yasin, Kamran Siddiqi, Sibli Abdul Karim Muslim.
They are among the 80 people facing trial in connection with the blasts on July 26, 2008 in which 21 bombs went off simultaneously in various parts of Ahmedabad, killing 56 and leaving over 200 injured.