The state government on Wednesday moved a petition before a special designated court hearing the July 2008 cases of Ahmedabad serial bomb blasts and bomb planting in Surat, seeking permission to use the photographs of the accused from the chargesheet to help in the identification by witnesses on the grounds. Over the last five to six years, the accused’s appearances have changed — they have put on weight and grown their beards and even had “enlarged eyebrows,” it argued.
The prosecution was compelled to move the application after some of the panch witnesses failed to identify certain accused during the ongoing trial. Such witnesses are those who were present at the time of recovery or revelations in the presence of investigators. According to the application, some witnesses have failed to identify certain accused because, “…they (witnesses) find that there is a vast difference in the physical/facial appearance, as that was on the date…”
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The application states that “All the accused appeared to have put on much weight, long beard, moustache and enlarged eyebrows.” On the other other hand, the defence lawyers submitted their reply opposing the state government’s move. They have said that there is no such law that permits such demand. They have alleged that the prosecution was trying to delay the trial. After the defence sought time for further reply, special designated judge P C Raval scheduled the matter for hearing on Thursday.
“If the accused deny to revert back to their original physical/facial appearance as that was on the date of their investigation/interrogation in presence of the witness, then the adverse inference may be drawn against them,” the application by public prosecutor H M Dhruva states. The defence lawyers have said in their reply that this “suggestion” is unprecedented.
The prosecution has told the court that “the accused are required to be directed to have their physical appearance, as on the day of their arrest or during the course of investigation when witnesses had an opportunity to see them so that the concept of fair trial may not be frustrated.”