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2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts: HC issues notice to 38 convicts after govt plea to confirm death sentence

A death sentence pronounced by a trial court is required to be confirmed by the HC under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) . The death sentence can be executed upon confirmation from the high court.

2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts case, 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts, Gujarat High Court, death sentence, Gujarat news, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsThe division bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and Mauna Bhatt reasoned that CrPC section 366 read with provisions under the criminal manual required intimating the accused about the state's move. File

A division bench of the Gujarat High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the 38 convicts who were sentenced to death by an Ahmedabad special court in the 2008 serial bomb blasts case. The court was hearing the application moved by Gujarat government Tuesday before the HC seeking confirmation of the sentence pronounced February 18.

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A death sentence pronounced by a trial court is required to be confirmed by the HC under the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) . The death sentence can be executed upon confirmation from the high court.

The division bench of Justices Sonia Gokani and Mauna Bhatt reasoned that CrPC section 366 read with provisions under the criminal manual required intimating the accused about the state’s move.

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The high court pointed out that if the convicts filed appeals against the sessions court’s verdict within the stipulated 90 days from the date of the judgment (February 18), hearing of the appeal would take precedence over the Gujarat government’s confirmation application.

Keeping the same in mind, the bench kept the notice returnable for June 9. With an application under CrPC 366 seeking confirmation of death sentence from the high court permitting the high court to direct the session court to take up additional evidence if required, the bench requested the prosecution to submit the record of proceedings at the lower court, which according to the prosecution runs in around 30,000-40,000 pages.

Charges under IT Act didn’t hold

Of the 78 accused in all, the Ahmedabad special court sentenced 38 of the 49 convicted, to death acquitting 29, including Ayaz Saiyed who turned approver during the trial and was pardoned.

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The court relied heavily on their alleged links to Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), a banned organisation by then, and confessional statements recorded before a magistrate to arrive at the verdict.

The accused were booked mainly under the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), the Arms Act and the Information Technology (IT) Act. Charges under the IT act did not hold on any of the 78 accused.

Perusal of the 7,015-page verdict shows, the only technology-related link the investigators could establish with the accused were some witness accounts identifying some of the accused as persons who would visit cyber cafes for “surfing”.

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Hard disk seizures, cyber cafe ledgers did not yield anything incriminating. Only one of the accused Mohammad Usman Mohammad Anis Agarbattiwala from Vadodara could be convicted under the Arms Act.

As per the order pronounced by the court of special judge AR Patel, only eight of those convicted were subjected to forensic investigations such as handwriting analysis (for 5 convicted), fingerprint analysis in the case of one and suspect detection system (SDS) conducted on two accused, both of whom are on the death row.

The court relied on confessional statements made under CrPC 164 recorded before a magistrate, by four co-accused that brought forth the SIMI connection. Among these four, two were acquitted —Umar alias Ashok Kabira from Surendranagar and -Manjar Imam from Ranchi, Jharkhand, while one faces rigorous life imprisonment —Mehndihasan alias Vicky Ansari of Kota, Rajasthan — and one is on the death row — Imran Ibrahim Sheikh from Vadodara.

Apart from approver Ayaz Saiyed’s testimony, the trial saw 26 star witnesses whose identity were not revealed during recording of evidence.
Imran Ibrahim in his statement before the magistrate under CrPC 164, had broadly admitted to being present in the Waga-mon training camp in Kerala and also of organising the Halol training camp and attending it with other co-accused. He also admitted that at the Halol camp, “jihadi speeches” were given, avenging Muslims’ was talked about and training was given on making bombs. Ibrahim’s statement was deemed enough for convicting some, such as Mohammad Ali alias Jamal alias Jiya alias Yassar alias Abubakr Ansari, from Jabalpur, MP, who is now sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment.

Approver Ayaz Saiyed in his statement, had broadly admitted that since 2000, a SIMI office was running in Shahpur, Ahmedabad, where meetings would be “organised secretly”.

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One local villager who identified a number of these accused during identification parades conducted under the supervision of executive magistrate but failed to identify a number of them in court during testimony, was condoned by the special court.

First published on: 10-03-2022 at 03:50:00 am
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