As a Khandwa court absolved 14 people, including a Sikh and a Christian, of the charge of working for the banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), it found the investigators depending on a translator who admitted not knowing enough Urdu and the police failing to distinguish between translation and transcription while building its case. However, five accused in the case — including Babbu alias Bablia Lukas Dominique — were sentenced to three years imprisonment each under the Arms Act.
On June 13, 2011, the Khandwa police had raided a house in Gulmohar Colony following a tip off about a secret SIMI meeting. The police had recovered small arms and a lot of extremist literature, including books, CDs and pamphlets. While the accused said it was a right-wing plot to frame them, the sub-inspector who led the raid — Hardev Singh Gaur — claimed to have heard the occupants talk about “continuing Jihad despite arrests of some SIMI activists”.
The court, however, did not find Gaur’s deposition reliable as no other police personnel seconded his version.
Constable Safia, who the police said translated the Urdu material, admitted during her cross-examination that she had studied only up to Class X in Urdu medium. She admitted she was not qualified to translate the seized material that had tough Urdu words and also claimed that she did not sign the Hindi translation. Interestingly, at one place the police showed Safia as a “transcription” witness instead of a “translation” witness.
Another constable said the audio CD he heard was in English and Arabic and he did not understand either of the two languages.
In his 30-page order on Wednesday, Additional Sessions Judge Avneendra Kumar Singh said the prosecution cannot arrive at a conclusion without knowing the context of what was said and by whom. “It’s possible the seized literature may have contained inflammatory portions but the prosecution has not submitted any clear evidence in the court,’’ the judge said.
Advocate Sudhakar Kango, who represented Jaspal Singh, argued that his client was a Sikh and could not be a member of the SIMI. Police had also misspelled Jaspal’s name as Raspal at more than one place.
The court acquitted Khalil, Rakib, Babbu, Abdulla, Ashfaq, Irfan, Jalil, Rashid, Jiya ur-Rehman, Wajid, Akhil Khilji and Mohammed Jafar Hussain of charges under the UAPA and various section of the IPC. While those convicted under the Arms Act included Babbu, Abdulla, Khalil, Wajid and Rakib.