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J-K liberation was part of conspiracy,add that charge,pleads prosecution

The prosecution in the Mumbai terror attack case has sought to alter the charges of waging war against the nation under section 121 of the Indian Penal Code,which has been framed against lone arrested terrorist Ajmal Kasab and others.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai |
May 22, 2009 2:22:36 am

The prosecution in the Mumbai terror attack case has sought to alter the charges of waging war against the nation under section 121 of the Indian Penal Code,which has been framed against lone arrested terrorist Ajmal Kasab and others. The court had,while framing the charges last month,not added the objective of liberating Jammu and Kashmir even as the prosecution argued that the attack formed part of a criminal conspiracy hatched in Pakistan with this objective.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam on Thursday moved an application before the court under section 216 of the Criminal Procedure Code,seeking to alter the charges. “Conspiracy is a distinct offence and it can be hatched for various objectives. During the opening address by the prosecution,it was brought to the notice of the court — on the basis of Kasab’s confession — that the conspiracy to attack Mumbai and other major cities was hatched to capture Kashmir. This objective is required to be added in the first head of charges framed,” he told the special court.

Special Judge ML Tahaliyani has reserved the order on the application for Friday. The court stated that charges under the head,waging of war against the nation,had been framed against the accused and it was the prosecution that has to prove the case before the court. Nikam said,“Framing of charges is completely the court’s prerogative,and the prosecution can only assist it based on the evidence collected by the investigating agency. Capturing Kashmir was one among the various objectives and it is clear from Kasab’s confessional statement. It has to be added to the charges.”

Defence lawyers Shahid Azmi and Abbas Kazmi opposed the plea,saying there was prima facie no material to suggest that one of the objectives of the conspiracy,allegedly hatched by Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT),was to separate Kashmir from India. Kazmi contended that it is not the correct time to alter the charges when they have already been framed. “The court can alter the charge but it cannot change the ingredient of the charge in the guise of altering charge,” Azmi said.

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Kasab’s lawyer Abbas Kazmi,meanwhile,moved a contempt application before the special court,seeking to issue a notice against the Islam Gymkhana authorities who had tried to terminate his trusteeship and membership in the gymkhana for defending Kasab. In his plea,he said the court had appointed him and such practice by the gymkhana was interfering in the judiciary. The judge said the court did not have powers to issue the notice and it could only refer it to a higher court. Arguments on the plea will continue on May 25.

The court also rejected Kazmi’s plea to allow him to inspect fishing trawler MV Kuber before the prosecution examine the witnesses in the case. The trawler was hijacked by the terrorists in high seas and was used to come to Mumbai.

The court said there was no provision to allow lawyers to visit the place of offence. In case of Kuber,the court cannot give permission because the boat has already been handed over to its owner on a bond executed by him. At this point,an inspection of Kuber was not necessary,but the court will permit lawyers if it feels that such a visit is required at a later stage.

Notes from The courtroom
Preventing laughter

Days after Kasab was pulled up for laughing and he blamed mediapersons for making him laugh,the policemen who escort Kasab and co-accused Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed to court from prison have been directed to block the view of Kasab and mediapersons by standing close to the dock.

Reading Quran
Following the footsteps of Kasab who is allowed to read Quran inside the prison,co-accused Fahim Ansari’s wife Yasmin gave a handbook-size Quran on Thursday to the prison authorities,to be given to Ansari in prison.

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