The special court that convicted 12 men for involvement in the 7/11 Mumbai serial blasts case said on Wednesday that it is running out of patience and asked the defence to be precise with the examination of its witnesses.
Examination of witnesses was under way when the court pulled up the defence for asking irrelevant questions.
The defence had previously sought to show that reform was possible for the convicts and wanted witnesses known to the convicts to support their argument. The court’s remark came when a defence lawyer, through the examination of convict Sajid Ansari’s brother, tried to highlight police harassment that led them to change houses in Mumbai. “Not relevant to this case. Law does not permit this kind of witness to come at this stage,” the court stressed.
According to the court, this nature of examination should have been done at an earlier stage. Observing that unnecessary examination amounted to wastage of time, the court said it had to take into account every minute of the proceedings.
Besides Ansari’s bother, three more witnesses — brother of Suhail Shaikh; a teacher from Arthur Road Jail for Ehtesham Siddiqui; and a medical practitioner for Tanveer Ansari — were examined. The government teacher appointed to teach inmates did not find anything “special” about Ehtesham’s conduct. However, he said the convict encouraged other prisoners to pursue education. He was unaware if Ehtesham, 32, had undergone any change behaviour-wise.
Tanveer’s witness, who works with a popular chain of hospitals and had worked with him earlier at another hospital, termed the convict “sincere” and “hardworking”. “There were no complaints from colleagues,” he said.
The witness said he cannot comment about Tanveer’s behaviour with staffers, but found him “cordial” and professional”. While Suhail’s brother explained the “ordeal” at home after his arrest, special prosecutor Raja Thakare questioned if Suhail had been booked for burning an American flag. “No, it is false,” he replied.
The prosecutor also asked if Suhail had ever travelled abroad. The brother again said “yes”. When Thakare claimed that Suhail had travelled to Pakistan to undergo terrorist training, the brother replied, “He had gone on a pilgrimage.” Examination of one more witness is likely on Monday, when the defence will also resume arguments on the quantum of sentence.